joel anthony montreal alliance gm general manager

Joel Anthony is using his NBA expertise at home with the Montreal Alliance

We spoke to the fresh CEBL team’s General Manager about basketball then and now.

It’s hard to believe it’s already been a decade since Joel Anthony won his first NBA Championship. The centre played a key role in the Miami Heat superteam led by LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. 

As a born and raised Montrealer, Anthony’s inclusion in the roster marked an important milestone for the city’s basketball footprint. After all, this was the first time since Bill Wennington of the Chicago Bulls in 1998 that a local athlete helped secure a Larry O’Brien trophy.

Two years removed from his playing career, the player affectionately known as the Warden continues to contribute purposefully to Montreal’s basketball landscape. In December of last year, Joel Anthony was named the inaugural General Manager of the city’s new Canadian Elite Basketball League franchise, the Alliance. With his new role, Anthony hopes to echo the class-act “Heat Culture” that turned him into a winner.

Mr. Wavvy: What was it like for you as a kid from Montreal playing in the NBA? At the time, there was only you and Samuel Dalembert.

Joel Anthony: There weren’t a lot of us. I was always proud to wear my Expos fitted cap! So I used to have my Expos fitted all the time, people that would only see me in that, because I wanted to represent where I was from. That representation is obviously huge. 

You fast-forward to where we are now, we have all these different players that come from our city in the league and more coming in. I love to see the growth for our city and province.

MW: What do you think has changed in the world of basketball that has made it so much more feasible for Montrealers to get their foot in the door?

JA: It is so much more of a global game now. We are hitting that curve where a lot of development is catching up and the exposure has been big.

Montreal has always had talented guys — we’ve been overlooked. Now, some of that talent is able to go to school, Division One universities and college and get a chance to develop there. And that has given them more opportunities, playing against really good competition to speed up their development.

MW: That’s beautiful. You guys are creating an opportunity where kids could really envision playing at home one day.

JA: Exactly. I was talking to Samuel (Dalembert), actually, not too long ago, about how we would dream to have the opportunity to be able to play at home. To have this opportunity where there’s a team right there in your backyard is extremely special. That’s why we want to make sure we’re able to do everything right, because I think this is a great opportunity that we don’t want to miss out on.

MW: How do you feel about the Miami Heat this season? (Note: This interview was conducted before their Easter Conference Finals elimination)

JA: They’re doing. Coach Spo’ has proven himself to be one of the top coaches in the league. They’re very locked into their culture, their style. Everyone understands the standard comes with playing with the Heat. They’ve been able to do a good job of putting together wins and being extremely competitive. You can see it in the success that they’ve had.

MW: Does seeing your old teammate Mario Chalmers sign a 10-day contract with the Heat give you an itch to return at all?

JA: Ha! No, I definitely don’t have the itch. I told (Mario) congratulations and everything, I’m happy he’s still playing and still having fun. That’s the most important thing. It’s always good to see someone you know, be able to go back home and get that opportunity. 

I’ll always miss (playing) basketball because it’s such a huge part of me, but now, I have something now that’s been able to really fulfill me. Something different, obviously, but it’s been great for me to be in this situation right now. ■

This column was originally published in the June 2022 issue of Cult MTL. 

To read our interview with Montreal Alliance player Kemy Osse, please click here. For more about the Montreal Alliance and to purchase tickets, please visit the team’s website.

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