DENVER – Despite constant trade rumors, Carmelo Anthony is in the midst of an extraordinary scoring spree.
And the Denver Nuggets All-Star forward attributes a lot of it to a 21-day meatless fast last month.
"It was mental. It was spiritual. It was emotional," Anthony said following a two-hour practice Saturday before the Nuggets headed out for a three-game road trip starting Sunday at Memphis.
From Jan. 9-30, Anthony followed what's known as the "Daniel fast," abstaining from all meats, fish, breads, sweets and soda. His diet was limited to protein shakes, raw juices, fruits and vegetables. He said he still abstains from soda and most meats.
"During that whole time, it was a lot of prayer, just taking some time out for myself and getting some clarity on things with myself, with my career, with my life, and it really helped me," Anthony said. "I started seeing things a lot more clearly from every aspect of my life."
Even as rumors swirl around Anthony leading up the Feb. 24 trade deadline, the Nuggets star has gained traction with his game. In five games since Feb. 4, Anthony has averaged 35.4 points. His performances in that span included tying a career high with a 50-point effort against Houston on Feb. 7 and a 42-point outburst Thursday night against Dallas.
He's converting shots at a 57 percent clip in that span and has been even better from beyond the arc, making 61 percent of those shots.
Anthony said he's never been in a groove like this.
"I just feel healthy," he said. "I think that's the No. 1 thing. My legs feel good. My body feels good and I'm starting to make shots. I've always taken the same shots. Some nights I miss 'em and sometimes I make 'em. Right now, they're going in."
Anthony's sensational run hasn't deflated the so-called "Melodrama" that has gone on virtually nonstop since he passed on the chance before the season to sign a three-year, $65 million extension from the Nuggets that remains on the table.
Wary of losing him to free agency after this season without any compensation, the Nuggets brass has entertained trade offers from around the league for the last several months. The latest rumor last week had the Nuggets discussing a possible deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. Anthony has also been linked to deals involving the New Jersey Nets, Minnesota Timberwolves and New York Knicks.
A number of his Nuggets' teammates, including hometown star Chauncey Billups, also have heard their names tossed in the potential dealmaking mix.
For the most part, Anthony has tried to stay above the fray by rigorously avoiding reading news reports discussing potential trade scenarios. But, he caused a stir last week when he said publicly for the first time he would consider signing the extension with the Nuggets if the trade deadline came and went and he was still in Denver.
Some speculated that was Anthony's way of putting pressure on the Knicks to sweeten the pot and not wait to sign him as a free agent. Any new collective bargaining agreement will have cost constraints that could cost Anthony millions of dollars if he refused to sign the $65 million extension.
On Saturday, he said his remark was consistent with what he has said all season — that he just wants to keep all of his options open. When asked in a follow-up what was the most ridiculous rumor he had heard throughout this drawn-out process, he smiled: "That I hate Denver. I laughed at that one."
While conceding there have been difficult moments amid all the trade talk, Anthony said he has maintained his focus on what he can do for the Nuggets on the court, a resolve he said was strengthened by the philosophical outlook he gained through his fast.
"I think it takes a strong-willed person, a strong-minded person to deal with the stuff that I deal with and still go out there and go to work every day and perform," Anthony said. "I take my hat off to myself for dealing with all this stuff that's going on out there, and still be able to go out there and play at the highest level.
"I don't really think the average person can walk in my shoes."