Carmelo Anthony does not want to play for the Denver Nuggets anymore. Nothing personal, it is just time for a change. The question I am trying to come to grips with is as a fan how angry should I be?
The Denver Nuggets are not what you would call a traditional powerhouse. For most of nearly a decade and a half Denver was a doormat. It is true there were some inspiring players and some exciting, even historic, moments. The Nuggets also tortured fans with the Paul Westhead experiment Dick Motta and the dreadful backcourt of Junior Harrington and Vincent Yarbrough. For the most part Denver suffered from poor management, lacked talent, some of their best players suffered debilitating injuries, see LaPhonso Ellis and Antonio McDyess, and the franchise was largely irrelevant.
That all changed when Carmelo Anthony arrived. Since Melo was drafted by the Nuggets in June of 2003 Denver has yet to have a losing season or miss the playoffs. After being one of the best teams in the ABA, once the Nuggets joined the NBA in 1976 they had never even had more than three consecutive winning seasons. Alex English never lead the Nuggets to seven straight winning seasons. No Nugget player has. Carmelo was the catalyst of the longest stretch of prosperity this franchise has ever experienced.
Of course Carmelo had help. In his rookie season Melo was joined by Andre Miller, a healthy Marcus Camby, veterans like Jon Barry and Voshon Lenard. He had plenty of help, but he was the star who shone the brightest and Anthony was going to be the one who would determine how far the franchise would rise. As time passed other stars came and went, Kenyon Martin arrived, Allen Iverson replaced Andre Miller and then Chauncey entered the picture, however, Carmelo was always the talent. He was the player the opposition feared.
Even in the best of times not everything was perfect. Carmelo arrived in Denver a young man and he struggled through some of the same issues other young men deal with as they mature. On the court, he was always on the verge of becoming transcendent, but he never quite pushed his game to that higher level. He never became the dominant force that raised the game of those around him. Maybe Carmelo did not want it bad enough. Maybe we misjudged him and he does not have that extra level of greatness. Maybe it just has not happened for him yet and the next team will benefit from his experiences in Denver. Regardless with Carmelo, and a strong supporting cast, Denver only saw the second round once and unfortunately, that will probably be the defining characteristic of his tenure in Denver.
Even so the days before Carmelo were so dark Nuggets fans longed to simply have a good competitive team and Melo delivered. The Nuggets are winners and Melo is star which is so much better than the alternative he became synonymous with the Denver Nuggets. The truth is he wants more and so should we.
Athletes come and athletes go. Some are traded, some leave as free agents, some are unceremoniously released, some are struck down by injury and some are lost simply due to the unrelenting passing of time. These relationships are rarely exclusive and change is the only constant.
The one thing we all do when we experience that change is to attempt to assign blame. This is all happening because of Carmelo. It is happening because of the Nuggets leadership. His agents are forcing him to leave. His wife wants to live in New York. The reality is there are no villains and there are no victims.
The Nuggets are going to be worse once Carmelo moves on and honestly it could be years before another player with Carmelo’s talent joins the roster. That is sports. That is what you open yourself up for when you choose to be a fan and care.
I have invested myself in the Nuggets to what is probably an unhealthy degree. I desperately want Denver to win a championship and I want them to be great. Am I angry with Carmelo for wanting out? No. He did a great deal for the Nuggets and I appreciate what he brought to the franchise. It is his career and he has to do what he thinks is best for him. Carmelo’s dream is to play in a big market. From a young age we are taught to follow our dreams and aren’t movies and books made about people doing all they can to achieve whatever their dream might be? If playing in a big market is what he longs to do, right or wrong, Melo should pursue it.
I do not know if Carmelo will end up in New Jersey, New York or somewhere else, but I wish him luck and will remember the many great moments he gave us in his Nuggets career. I wish we could have won a championship together, but for one reason or another it was not meant to be.