Carmelo Anthony’s return to Madison Square Garden is going to get a big reaction on Saturday. It shouldn’t be filled with boos.
Anytime a former star player returns to their former team the big question is, how will the crowd react? Will they boo or will they cheer, or possibly a mixture of both.
Remember when LeBron James returned to Cleveland for the first time when he was a member of the Miami Heat?
Or how about Kevin Durant’s return to Oklahoma City?
Those returns were brutal for both of these guys, and this kind of reception should not be the case for when Carmelo Anthony returns to the Garden on Saturday night.
Did his time with the New York Knicks end badly? Yes, it did, but that wasn’t all his fault. He did have an incompetent president of basketball operations, Phil Jackson, making life very difficult for much of his Knicks career.
Furthermore, it was torture to watch Anthony hold onto the ball for 22 seconds on the shot clock and take a tough, contested shot. There was no such thing as ball movement when Anthony was on the floor.
You can easily even question his effort at times and see lazy play. According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Derrick Rose was quoted last season saying “I’ll push him [Anthony] and be on him when he’s being lazy.” Even his teammates acknowledged that his effort wasn’t always there.
But through the bad, there were still great moments from having Anthony on the roster. In seven years for the Knicks, he averaged 24.7 points and seven rebounds per game. Anthony was on the All-Star team in each of those seven seasons.
Remember when Melo dropped 62 points against the Charlotte Bobcats?
Anthony was the leader of the 2012-13 Knicks team that won 54 games. They were a two-seed in the playoffs that year. Melo’s 28.7 PPG average was enough to win the scoring title, beating out Durant.
Melo received one first-place vote for MVP that season, which kept LeBron from becoming the first unanimous NBA MVP.
The Knicks were always relevant with Anthony on the roster, and he played a huge role in the development of Kristaps Porzingis.
“I think it would make life harder for me on the court (if Anthony was traded),” Porzingis told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News in February. “He makes stuff easier for me. … There’s still a lot more things I want to learn from Melo. So I would love to have him around for a long time. I always love playing with Melo.”
Let’s not forget that Melo could have left in 2014, but signed an extension to stay with the Knicks. Yes, I know he had $124 million reasons to stick around, but I believe he honestly wanted to stay—and win—in New York.
James and Durant were booed when they returned to their former home courts because they chose to leave. Anthony was traded. Yes, Melo might have wanted out in the end, but can you blame him? It was a situation where leaving was best for him and the team.
In no way, shape, or form does he deserve to be booed when he returns. He deserves to be cheered for when he is introduced. After that, he’s the enemy—and fans should root for the Knicks to shut him down.