Should I be Mad at Carmelo Anthony?

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.

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  • edi

    great post. Thanks a lot for this. I think, Melo gave you everything, you’re lacking for so many yeras.
    Greeting from Poland.

  • Hunter

    Hate to be mean. But Melo is not going to sighn an extension he wants to go to new york and they dont want to trade for him when they can get him next offseason. so what i suggest is trade him to golden state for anderis beidreins charlie bell epke udoh and mabye a draft pick. you’l get something for him and some guys for the future

  • magster

    I’m mad. I’d be OK if he stated a reason and didn’t string us along, and I don’t think he has stated a reason because he’s aware that chasing a bigger spotlight is kind of a lame reason.

    • magster

      And replying to myself…

      Tulo and Cargo did it right, as have many other elite athletes. There’s no reason Melo could not have done the same thing as they did.

      • squareball

        Stop being such a crybaby about Melo and more importantly stop bring the most booring non-sport in the world (baseball) into basketball discussions.

        • magster

          I am a crybaby. I cried when the Nuggets lost Game 6 to the Nets on a last second shot by Dr. J in 1976 ABA finals. I wanted to cry but didn’t because I was too macho when Kareem broke Alex English’s forearm with a deliberate atomic elbow in the WCF in the 80s. And a part of me is going to weep for as long as Denver doesn’t win a championship, which will be a long time because of Melo.

          And being a Rocky fan will be a lot less boring than watching losing basketball.

  • dlskeets

    I agree with you Jeremy, and wish Melo the best, as long as he doesn’t screw the franchise by forcing them to take an inferior deal just so he can play for NY.
    Don’t forget, whether it was loyalty or bad advice, he did sign for the extra year last time around. If he had signed the deal Bosh/LBJ/Wade did, we’d likely be sitting in the same shoes as Cleveland and Toronto right now.

    • rutweets

      I wouldn’t be so sure that you’re getting an inferior deal from the Knicks just because the Media tells you it is. Look at what all those “prospects” are doing in New Jersey. If you can get a Wilson Chandler, Gallinari, and Fields with a first rounder – you’re getting more then prospects you’re getting some known entities. Don’t let the Media fool you the Knicks are an up and coming team and the Nets are going nowhere fast with their current group.

  • ParkHillNative

    Jeremy’s points are all valid, and Chris Webber made a very emotional argument in Melo’s defense on last night’s Inside the NBA postgame show. I suppose I could grant that he had some valid points too.

    But in my mind, it all ignores a question that’s larger than just Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets.

    Things look pretty bleak these days for the Cavaliers. They’ve been bleak for the Sacramento Kings for some time — have they been to the playoffs since Webber left? It’s pretty easy to imagine the Nuggets getting stuck there again too, unless Ujiri and Josh Kroenke turn out to be geniuses.

    Magster beat me to the punch pointing out Tulowitzski and Cargo’s new contracts. Also I’m thinking lately about John Elway, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, who was happy to spend his entire career in Denver.

    So is it just me, or are basketball players more resistant than other athletes to playing in medium or small markets? I’ve always thought the Spurs were stupidly and ridiculously lucky for landing Duncan in the lottery. Now I only believe this more strongly. That small market managed to latch onto a truly great player who is not only incredibly dominant, but also humble and down-to-earth and willing to stay there. If only the Nuggets had won that lottery. Guys like Duncan are so rare. Now I just figure, even if Favors or some other draft pick pans out to be great for the Nuggets, he’ll just want to jump ship for a big, splashy, glitzy, glamorous market before long.

    Is there anything the NBA can do to level the playing field and help the mid and small market teams compete? Guys like Duncan are one in a billion. It feels like if the Nuggets never land a guy like him, then they’ll never make it to the Finals. Is there any incentive that could be offered to make these big stars less apt to want to jump ship from the teams that draft them?

    • magster

      Each team being awarded a franchise player tag, and an exemption from the salary cap for said franchise player. Union won’t agree to the former. Owners won’t agree to the latter.

  • KW

    I lay the largest amount of blame with the FO. They failed to protect their own interests (to say nothing of our interests). They failed to see the importance of keeping their finger on Melo’s pulse and ensuring he was THEIR franchise player, willing to support their plan (if they had one?).
    Melo forcing his way out is a punk move. Maybe it’ll work out for him…maybe not. I’ll be interested to see. I guess I’m not mad at him, but I wont ever vote for him to go to the All Star game…I won’t cry if he never wins MVP.

  • Frontrange

    I agree with you Jeremy and with a lot of what Webber tried to say last night. I am sad that ‘Melo is leaving and wish he was happy here but while I don’t blame Nuggets managment for making business decisions, I also don’t think they made it hard for ‘Melo to make this choice.

    If ‘Melo wasn’t a star, you can bet management would be throwing him by the wayside in pure $/cents move. It is not like Marcus Camby wanted out, Dantay Jones wanted to stay, etc. Anybody familiar with this quote “You show loyalty, they learn loyalty. Show them its about work, it will be about work. Show them some other game, and thats what they’ll play.” -The Wire

  • Andy

    I think the turning point in the Melodrama was the decision to part ways with Wark and Chapman this summer. Before they were let go and the contract extension was on the table, I remember Chauncey saying on record that he thought Melo would re-sign. That sudden shake up must have given Melo pause and I think the subsequent events in free agency led him to have a change of heart about Denver.

    What bothers me is that Melo really didn’t give this season a chance. The Nuggets could have competed with the other teams in the West if they didn’t have this distraction. Why didn’t he just spare us this agony? Yes, the contract extension did force his hand to some extent but he should have announced that he wanted to try to win a championship this season as a Nugget and then test the waters as a free agent.

    A contract should mean something. Now we see other superstars like Paul and Howard dictating their teams’ personnel moves more than a full season out from their contracts expiring. All this is very bad for the game of basketball. I’ll be rooting for the owners this summer and during the inevitable lockout.

  • Clayton

    Go!!! Owners!!! Go!!! Owners!!! Go!!!Owners!!!!
    Man I feel like Rocky

    I think it really comes down to – if mamma ain’t happy, nobody gonna be happy. It doesn’t matter if Masai or Wark/Chap are still here, or if even MJ was GM here… LaMelo wants to be home. I can’t blame him, I don’t hate him, heck I’m not even mad. He would have signed the deal on the spot if he wanted to stay here. Of course that was his way of saying “I’m out, get a deal done if you can”. And as such, he has had one foot out the door the whole season. Just get the deal done already – just don’t send the rest of the team with him.

  • Warner

    Nice post but I thought the ending was very dissapointing. I think Nuggets fans have handled this whole ordeal with nothing but class and have put up with a lot more than most fan bases would. I think for the most part people understand why Melo wants to leave and that it’s his right to leave. He doesn’t need to offer any explanations. HOWEVER, I am still extremely upset with Melo. Everyone knows in all professional sports that free agency has been created for a player to get paid at fair market value and to be able to play at any club that’s willing to have you. Once that contract is signed though, that player loses his ability to veto trades or dictate to management where he wants a trade unless his contract has a clause allowing him to do so. Melo wants to eat his cake and have it too. He can’t get the freedoms with free agency by choosing where to play and sign an extension under the current cba with that team. He’s holding the nuggets hostage and its truly unfair. NOW, for how the Nuggets management has handled this whole ordeal… That’s for another article!!!

  • mikehail

    I agree with all your comments. I have been a fan since the Denver Rockets. Carmelo has been great for Denver. It is my opinon that had we tried to improve the team Carmelo would not leave. I mean how obvious is it that to compete we need a rebounder and defender at center and a consistent player who can score at the off guard. However, we decided not to try and get better but to blow up the team. Carmelo is a superstar. He has never gotten the help he needed to become great. Every time the nuggets did not do well Carmelo has been blamed. He does not play defense , He not as good as the guy in Dallas, who has since been on several teams, he does not play hard enough and so on. Well Carmelo is not only a great player but he is a leader and we will see that wherever He goes the team will be better. He does not get the credit he deserves for being great and that is why he must leave Denver. I hate it, the Nuggets will revert to what they were before they lucked into drafting him, remember we wanted Darko and we were saved by a dufus Joe Dumars, remember skitsa vili(sic), remember all the other stiffs we drafted. “You never miss your water until the well runs dry”, goes the old adage. Well, we will miss Carmelo and what we are getting in return for him,”is a bunch of beans” to borrow from the tale of “Jack and the Beanstalk”. You can not replace a superstar. I am sad for Denver fans and happy for Carmelo. I am afraid we will lose the team because I know Denver will not support a losing basketball team one more time.

  • Colby

    They better not trade Chauncey. He is the most loyal person on this team and still a great point guard. He wants to retire with the Nuggets and then be a part of the front office in Denver. Chauncey can teach Ty how to become one of the best for at least a few more years. Show a little loyalty to a player that has loved being a nugget and wishes to retire one.