It looks like there isn’t much love for Carmelo Anthony in Denver.
The future Hall of Famer played the first 7 1/2 seasons of his NBA career with the Nuggets after being selected with the third overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft. Denver had failed to reach the playoffs in each of the eight seasons prior to drafting Anthony; he led the team to seven consecutive postseason appearances, including the Western Conference finals in 2009 where they fell to Kobe Bryant and the eventual champion Lakers.
Still, in spite of his contributions to the franchise, Anthony was noticeably absent from a tweet Friday in which the team asked fans: ”Who is your favorite Nugget of all time?”
In lieu of Anthony, pictured in the graphic are team legends Nick Van Exel, Dikembe Mutombo and Alex English, current superstar Nikola Jokic and newly named Clippers assistant coach Chauncey Billups.
It’s understandable that Nuggets fans may have conflicting feelings about Anthony, who refused to sign a contract extension ahead of the 2010-11 season. There were rumors that he had requested a trade prior to the start of the season, but he continued playing in Denver until he was finally traded on Feb. 22, 2011, to the Knicks, along with Billups.
Perhaps there’s some bad blood because Anthony wanted to move on, but isn’t that a little childish? It’s nothing new for stars to leave the teams that drafted them in search of more, whether it be title aspirations or money.
As far as credentials go, Anthony certainly belongs on the list. He averaged 24.8 points per game in his time with the Nuggets, including a career-best 28.9 per game during his first All-Star season in 2006-07. He received First Team All-Rookie honors, made four All-Star teams, and was named All-NBA Second Team once and All-NBA Third Team three times while in Denver. He scored 13,970 points during his Nuggets tenure, good for third all time in franchise history behind English (1979-90: 21,645 points) and Dan Issel (1975-85: 16,589), another notable snub.
The most questionable inclusions have to be Van Exel and Billups. Van Exel only played 3 1/2 seasons in Denver. Even if he did average 17.7 points and 8.4 assists as a Nugget, those teams were awful and never achieved a winning record. Not only that, but Van Exel himself requested a trade, which he later regretted.
Billups played 4 1/2 seasons between two stints in Denver. He played just 58 games in his first two seasons from 1998-2000. His return was much more successful, as he used his experience from winning two NBA championships with the Pistons to help Anthony lead the Nuggets to the West finals in ’09. He made two All-Star appearances, was an All-NBA Third Team selection and received the 2009 NBA Sportsmanship Award. That’s a solid resume, but it doesn’t even begin to touch what Anthony did.
Mutombo is a pretty safe call to make the shortlist. Although he only played five seasons in Denver (1991-96), he won his first of four NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards in 1994-95 and was deeply loved by Nuggets fans for his 31 blocks in the five-game playoff series win over the SuperSonics in 1994. Jokic has firmly planted himself in franchise history by leading Denver to another Western Conference finals appearance after overcoming 3-1 series deficits to the Jazz and the Clippers in the 2020 playoffs.
Fans on Twitter made sure to let the Nuggets know who was missing from the list (primarily it was Anthony, though others made sure to shout out David Thompson, Fat Lever and . . . JR Smith?).
Lack of respect in Denver for @carmeloanthony career with the Nuggets needs to end. Melo should be pictured and mentioned always. Third all-time leading scorer took franchise back to postseason and brought respect to franchise. How is @DanIssel44 or David Thompson not mentioned? https://t.co/ufGGcoOmGu
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) October 16, 2020
Carmelo Anthony career playoff stats with Denver:
Led the Nuggets to their first trip to the Western Conference Finals in 24 years.
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) October 16, 2020
Even the Premier League got in the action. You know you’ve messed up when other sports are calling you out.
The fact that Anthony was left out over Billups and Van Exel was too ridiculous to be ignored.
Y’all put Chauncey in this pic and not melo lmao y’all salty salty 😂
— “E” (@ELHAE) October 16, 2020
You really put Brick Van Exel in there, he only played there for three seasons 😂. Might as well put Allen Iverson too.
Melo right now pic.twitter.com/eij6BcOPsg
— Courtsiders 🏀 (@courtsiderspod) October 17, 2020
Of course, we’d all be remiss if we didn’t pay respect to true Nuggets legends Lever and Smith.