This humility, like his easy smile, is a sign of strength, not weakness. Anthony is not going to relax, no matter how many times he is congratulated for his national championship. His primary goal now is to bring the Nuggets an NBA ride. Just as James has Cleveland fans dreaming big for the first time in a decade, Anthony has lit a fire in Denver. Anthony instantly became the team's most popular player, and among rookies his $30 million in endorsements is second only to James's $118 million.
Now it's up to Anthony to get Denver some wins. Last Friday he found himself in a duel with Clippers small forward Corey Maggette, who was convinced that the Nuggets pulled out of free-agent negotiations with him last summer because they preferred to focus on Anthony. "That's my spot you got!" Anthony heard Maggette grunt over and over again on his way to scoring 29 points while Anthony, who suffered a right-elbow contusion during the game, was unable to fully extend his shooting arm. But Anthony overcame the injury to score a season-high 30 points while draining three straight jumpers in overtime, including a pair of dramatic treys, before Denver succumbed 104-102.
"It's good to know I can knock down shots like that," Anthony said afterward, rubbing his elbow. Two weeks into his NBA career the teenager was already showing the Nuggets the toughness that got him through the streets of the Pharmacy and the clutch play that brought Syracuse a title. He was too busy to worry about rookie rivalries.