The franchise has moved on with a younger and cheaper roster that is still winning games at a playoff-caliber pace. Every player except Ty Lawson has moved on since Anthony’s departure in 2011. Fans have clearly moved on as well. The former Nuggets superstar is expected to be booed vehemently when he makes his return to Denver on Wednesday night.
At least one member of the Nuggets organization still gives Anthony is due. Coach George Karl remains supportive of Anthony, even saying the team should one day retire Anthony’s No. 15 jersey.
“I would probably say yes,” Karl told The Denver Post. “My gut feeling is, I don’t know if you want to do it at a time when the fans are kind of angry and frustrated, and probably some fans are anti-Melo, but in time I would vote ‘definitely, yes.’ What he did for this franchise, turning it around, he has to be one of the two or three best players in Nuggets history, in my opinion. I vote yes.”
The Nuggets had missed the playoffs eight consecutive seasons before they drafted Anthony in 2003. They qualified for the playoffs the next eight years with him, including the 2010-11 season when he was traded in the middle of the year. They won 54 games and reached the Western Conference Finals in 2009.
Things have gone well in Denver since the deal. The Nuggets enter Wednesday’s game with a 43-22 record, fifth-best in the west, compared to the Knicks’ 38-23 mark, good for second in the East.