Joel Anthony, of the Miami Heat, may not be a native of Pensacola like athletes Emmitt Smith, Derrick Brooks and Trent Richardson. Still, Anthony made an important stop to the city on his journey toward being a NBA champion.
Born in Montreal, Anthony played at Pensacola Junior (now State) College for two years before committing to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. At UNLV, he helped his team go to the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament in 2007, leading them in rebounding and shot blocking as a senior.
Summer 2007, the Miami Heat signed Anthony as a free agent. The former PJC Pirate has said that playing for the institution was the best thing for his development as a basketball player. During the 2012 basketball season, Anthony started in 51 games and played in 64. The Heat’s center played big minutes in the Eastern Conference Semifinals when Chris Bosh–part of the “Big Three”, was pulled out of a game due to an abdominal strain injury. Anthony posted career playoff high totals in points and blocks, helping the Heat come from behind in the series against the Indiana Pacers while Dwayne Wade and LeBron James heated up.
Similar to Pensacola native Reggie Evans, forward for the L.A. Clippers, Anthony plays his role by getting rebounds, hustling for loose balls and playing defense. Although this role may not make the headlines like those of the Big Three, it is necessary for his team to win. During the 2012 playoffs, Anthony tied with James in team blocks with a total of 16.