Carmelo Anthony is best known for his time with the New York Knicks. Where exactly that falls, though, depends on your perspective. Anthony’s biggest fans point to the 54-win Knicks team that Anthony led during the 2012-13 season, in which he was the runner-up for MVP. That campaign proved what he was capable of with the right teammates around him. His doubters, on the other hand, would point to the exhausting drama of his 2010-11 trade request. That landed him with the Knicks at a cost of several young players, draft picks, and, seemingly, his reputation in Denver.
It was the Nuggets that acquiesced to his demand, after all. Anthony never missed the postseason in Denver, but longed for a bigger stage. He was granted one in New York, but for the most part, he was unable to make the most of it. He won only a single playoff series as a Knick and missed the postseason entirely in his final three seasons in New York.
Now that both eras are over, Anthony has become a bit more reflective on each. On Wednesday, Anthony professed his desire to have his No. 7 jersey retired by the Knicks someday, but only a day later, he found himself in Denver with his Portland Trail Blazers to play against the Nuggets. When asked how he would feel about having his number retired there, Anthony responded by saying “this is where it should be retired, to be honest with you. Just my opinion.”
The implication in that statement is that Anthony believes his time in Denver to have been more successful than his stint with the Knicks. By almost any measure, this is true. He averaged more points on a higher field goal percentage with the Nuggets despite his Knicks tenure coinciding almost entirely with his prime and coming in a more offensively-favorable era. He won substantially more in both the regular season and postseason with the Nuggets, and came only two games away from reaching the NBA Finals in 2009. He also played 152 more games in Denver than he did in New York.
No matter how obvious it might seem, Anthony taking that position is still unusual. After all, he was the one who so heavily pushed not only to leave Denver, but to land in New York specifically. Anthony, who was born in Brooklyn, has since built quite a bit of his brand around his connection to New York. In some small way, an admission that he was more successful in Denver almost amounts to an admission that his push for New York was a mistake, or that he at least didn’t appreciate Denver enough when he was there.
The Nuggets have remained consistently competitive since Anthony left. There doesn’t appear to be much bad blood left between him and the fans, and given the relatively low standard of jersey retirement in Denver, there is a good chance Anthony’s No. 15 one day hangs in the Pepsi Center rafters. Even if things didn’t end the way Anthony or the Nuggets wanted them to, he remains an essential part of the team’s history and a necessary springboard into what has come since.
Courtesy: CBS Sports