UNLV BASKETBALL:

Joel Anthony’s 5-year, $18 million deal with Miami could include some rings

Former UNLV center will play ‘glue guy’ role on star-studded Heat roster with championship expectations

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Elise Amendola / AP

Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce (34) passes the ball from under the basket against Miami Heat center Joel Anthony (50) and Dorell Wright (1) in the second half of Game 1 of the first round of their NBA Playoffs series in Boston on Saturday, April 17, 2010. Anthony, a former UNLV center, recently signed a five-year, $18 million contract extension with the Heat.

After signing the piece of paper that forever changed his life, Joel Anthony had absolutely no clue what to do next.

"I was kind of in a daze," the former UNLV center said. "I went driving, I didn't know where I was driving to. I just couldn't believe what had happened."

The drive somehow took Anthony to a PF Changs restaurant in South Florida.

He sat, he ate, he watched some TV.

All the while, couldn't stop smiling.

Anthony, who spent the first three seasons of his NBA career with the Miami Heat, will be suiting up there for the foreseeable future.

That was cemented last Friday when he signed a five-year, $18 million deal to be the guy who plugs the holes and does the dirty work in the shadows of the imposing, star-studded trio of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

"(Them being in place) definitely made it that much easier," Anthony, a free agent this summer, said of the decision. "I always wanted to have the opportunity to come back to Miami, even before any of them signed. Obviously, with them signing, I realized that this was going to be a really special team and I wanted to have the opportunity to be a part of that."

Anthony fills a void that the Heat, given their star power, needed: A guy who can do the dirty work and doesn't need shots of his own to succeed.

What made the three-year veteran, who helped lead the Rebels to the 2007 Sweet Sixteen, a logical piece for team President Pat Riley to re-sign was the fact that Anthony had done just that for Miami since joining the franchise as an undrafted free agent.

He's averaged a modest 2.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game but is a valuable defensive cog in the middle and has shown a work ethic that can only rub off on others around him.

With the offensive pieces in place for years to come, a guy like Anthony was in need on a roster that will feature only four players who suited up for Miami last season.

"Obviously, we have three of the top players in the league on the team already," Anthony said. "I feel I'll be able to provide some support in terms of what I do with my role within the team. I can help a lot, and I'm looking forward to being a good fit."

Combining the $1.9 million he has banked in his first three NBA seasons with the lucrative pact he just signed, Anthony will now be set for life financially. That's something that few 27-year-olds can claim.

Still, Anthony said that nothing has gone to his head and that he's thankful for every opportunity that has been given to him in basketball, from junior college to UNLV to the NBA.

He's spending this weekend relaxing back in Las Vegas and said he plans on stopping by his old campus stomping grounds to catch up with coach Lon Kruger and his staff, along with some of the current Rebels.

Soon, though, it will be time to return to South Beach, meet new teammates Bosh and James and begin life on a roster that will carry immense NBA title expectations.

The potential for several championship rings can be considered a nice fringe benefit to his new contract.

"It's exciting for everyone," he said. "There's going to be a big buzz leading up to the season. Like I've said before, the opportunity is so great to be on a team like this. We haven't even played a game yet, but the potential of what could be is definitely something to look forward to."

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  1. The hated Lakers are soon done in.

  2. Congratulations Joel!! You deserve it!

  3. I am very happy for Joel. He was nothing but class and hard work for the Rebels and it is always great to see alumni succeed. As for Homer's comment about my Lakers, time will tell. The Lakers are still the two-time defending champions.

  4. This contracts for all the kruger haters ... suck on that ... while trent plaisted and nick fazekas struggle to find a team

  5. Much congrats Mr. Anthony, and good luck this season. Great work ethic pays off, and he has done a great job.

  6. Robert, just give it up. Get back to me when UNR or Fresno go dancing. Basketball is a team sport. Middle of the pack teams don't go to the NCAA tournament 3 out of the last 4 years. There are 346 division 1 schools in college basketball. When a team ranks in the top 25 at all, it's something special.

  7. x4nk8trx
    Give it a break, dude. Its funny you mention UNR and Fresno State. How many tournament wins do they have is the past few 5 years. How many appearances?
    Obvioiusly talent does not directly lead to championships. Look and Calipari and Rick Barnes. I'd rather have the Duke approach than the new Kentucky approach myself. Players that play more than a year, who play team basketball and actually win championships.

  8. This is great news. What a shining example of patience, perseverance and hard work can do for you. As I recall, and I may be wrong, but I think Kruger had Anthony redshirt before his senior year so that he could gain weight and get added experience. This guy is very very raw and has a tremendous future ahead of him. I'm not a fan of Lebron's anymore after what he did and the way he did it but I'm a huge Joel Anthony fan so I'll be rooting for him. He and Louis Amundson are terrific representatives for UNLV and I think exhibit that hard work that Kruger's program demands. Now, if only Kruger could recruit. . .

  9. One thing you always hear about these UNLV guys is their tremendous work ethic. That's a great tribute to Lon Kruger and his staff!

  10. Hey Homer,

    Basketball championships are won on the court not in comment columns or press conferences.

    The LAKERS have 16 of these championships, how many do the Heat players and coaches have?

  11. x4nk8trx,
    I don't care how many names you have now or how many of them have been blocked, but if you're going to complain so much about Lon Kruger and the coaching staff, why don't you just march on down to the Athletic Offices and hand your resume to Jim Livengood? If you know so much about coaching and how to win I'm sure he would hire you on the spot! Anyways, great news for another great UNLV product.

  12. The Heat won't win it this year. 2011-2012 maybe.

    If they don't get one in the first two years, their egos will shine through and there WILL be internal problems because of it.

    Lakers are looking good again,(even though I would love for my Bulls to make some noise) but if Joel can get a championship or two with the Heat then I guess it won't feel as bad now.