Why I Do NOT Think the Denver Nuggets Should Honor Carmelo Anthony Now That He’s Retired

By Shawn Patrick on May 25, 2023
Photo By Karl Gehring/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Let me start this article by saying that Carmelo Anthony is one of the best players in Denver Nuggets history. I am not here to debate that. The stats prove it, and I saw it first hand for seven and a half years when he played here. However, I am here to say that I think the team should essentially ignore all of those things and do NOTHING to honor Carmelo now that his career in the NBA is over.

As I mentioned, I saw Carmelo’s greatness with my own eyes as a Nuggets season ticket holder from 2001-2012. I actually fell in love with the Nuggets two seasons before Melo was drafted by the club. I got invited to my first game by a buddy in early 2001 and was captivated by the energy in the building, so we saved every penny we had, as high school students, to get season tickets to watch the team struggle to 27 wins in 2001-02 and then just 17 in 2002-03. Then in the 2003 NBA Draft I remember the excitement we had when the Detroit Pistons essentially gifted us Carmelo, an NCAA Champion from Syracuse, when they chose to take Darko Milicić with the second pick instead of Anthony.

The hype was huge right away for a team that hadn’t been good in a long time. Ticket prices shot way up, jerseys and merch were more, but it was all worth it because the Nuggets became instant contenders, making the Playoffs in Melo’s first season.

Over the course of Melo’s seven and a half seasons as a Nugget, he became a bonafide superstar and the team got really good, making the Western Conference Finals (losing to Kobe’s Lakers) in 2009.

However, Melo never really loved the Mile High City like we loved him. It was always his goal to get out of Denver and into a major market, like his birth city, New York.

Enter the Melo-drama… When Carmelo made it very clear he wanted to be traded or wouldn’t resign with the team at the end of the season. He refused an extension that was presented to him (3 years $66 million). For eight months Nuggets fans, who had invested so much into Melo had to watch the star essentially tell us day in and day out that he hated it here and was leaving. He also made comments that suggested that the Nuggets held him back from being a great player. How his time in Denver was just “growing up” and of no more significance than his one year at Syracuse. This even after the front office continued to offer him superstar contracts and a supporting cast of great players from Allen Iverson to Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin and more through the years, that were brought in specifically to help him win.

Ultimately, like a lovesick boy begging a girl who’s fallen out of love to stay, Melo would hypothetically flip the bird to Denver, reject the team and the city, and get his way. He was traded to a subpar New York Knicks team, that gave him less chance to win and “prove himself” than he had in Denver, in February 2011.

The Nuggets actually ended up with the better end of that trade after the dust settled, with an impressive haul of players and draft picks, including the Knicks pick in 2016 who ended up being Jamal Murray (how’s that look right now?).

In conclusion, the NBA is a business. Players will come and go, I get that. However, the way Carmelo dismissed the city of Denver and all the love we all gave him for dang near a decade is part of the reason the national media still gives the Nuggets nearly no love as they make their first Finals appearance this year. It’s the reason I personally quit watching the NBA for a handful of years and vowed to never let an athlete like that have the opportunity to break my heart the way he did, and I know I am not alone. It’s the reason it took the Nuggets 10-12 years to get back to championship contenders. And it’s the reason that even though he’ll always be thought of as one of the greatest Denver Nuggets ever, I personally hope the franchise remembers the way he thought of the city when he was here, and they politely pass on honoring him with any sort of jersey retirement, statue, or anything else similar.

Thank you for the fun years, Melo, and congrats on a great career, but you broke this Nuggets fan heart into a million pieces and I don’t need a reminder of that every time I go try to enjoy the team.

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