Carmelo Anthony, a complicated figure in Nuggets history, calls it a career

May 22, 2023, 9:48 AM | Updated: 11:44 am

On a night the Nuggets could make history, the morning headlines were dominated by a former player.

Carmelo Anthony, the team’s No. 3 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, officially called it a career. Anthony hasn’t played in the league in 13.5 months, but decided to tell the world on Monday that he’s done.

Anthony averaged more than 20 points per game in all of his 7.5 seasons with Denver and made the All-Star Game four times. The Nuggets were just 17-65 the year before they drafted him, and made the playoffs every season during his tenure.

Unfortunately, Anthony and the first-round of the postseason didn’t get along. He lost in Round 1 five-straight years to start his career, and six of the seven years he was in Denver. The team went on a magical run to the Western Conference Finals in 2009, but that was after Chauncey Billups and his leadership and experience were brought to town.

Anthony eventually grew unhappy, and demanded out of Denver. He wanted to play in a bigger market, rather than pursue a title with the team he broke in the league with. After a long saga, that wish was granted in Feb. 2011 when Anthony was moved to the New York Knicks.

The Nuggets received Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov and draft picks in the deal. Billups left Denver with Anthony, along with a handful of other players. Denver ended up landing superstar Jamal Murray with the final draft selection of the trade, so it certainly worked out.

Anthony is a complicated figure in Nuggets history. He helped put the franchise back on the map after a dreadful eight-year stretch in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But he also torpedoed his way out of Denver when it felt like the Nuggets could achieve something special. He never reached an NBA Finals elsewhere.

And that’s where a twist of irony is present. With Denver up 3-0 on the Lakers in the 2023 Western Conference Finals and about to make their first NBA Finals, Anthony announced his retirement on the same day. The timing was likely a coincidence, but it’s a little curious nonetheless.

Anthony, who wore No. 15, may have his jersey in the rafters at Ball Arena one day. Or he may not, considering Nikola Jokic, the best player in franchise history, now wears that number.

It’ll be fascinating to see how the Nuggets handle it down the road, but for now, they’ve got bigger priorities.



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Carmelo Anthony, a complicated figure in Nuggets history, calls it a career