Carmelo Anthony is one of the best players in Denver Nuggets history. The Nuggets selected Anthony at No. 3 overall in the 2003 NBA Draft, and he went on to finish second in Rookie of the Year voting behind LeBron James, lead the team to the Western Conference Finals in 2009, and finish with the third most points in franchise history.
Anthony and the Nuggets did not end on the best terms. Melo demanded a trade from the Nuggets in 2010, and eventually landed in his preferred destination: the New York Knicks. Anthony had a solid run with the Knicks, helping lead the team to three playoff appearances but only one series win. Anthony retired with 28,289 total points, the ninth most in league history.
Under most circumstances, a team like the Nuggets would strongly consider retiring the number of a player like Anthony. There’s only one problem: three years after trading the star scorer, Denver gave away his No. 15 to a little known second round draft pick out of Serbia named Nikola Jokic. The rest is history.
Anthony appeared on The Kid Mero’s podcast “7 p.m. in Brooklyn” this week to discuss his career. Mero asked him about Jokic getting his old number in Denver, and Anthony didn’t sound happy about it.
“It was a petty maneuver,” Anthony said. “It wasn’t like we got numbers to choose from, it was like here, you got No. 15. What I believe is that they gave him No. 15 to try to erase what I did.”
Watch the clip here:
I find Carmelo’s conspiracy here extremely hard to believe for one reason: no one knew Jokic was going to be this good. If the guy even became a one-time All-Star he would go down as one of the better second round picks in history. The fact that he became one of the greatest big men of all-time, a two-time MVP, and an NBA champion is a huge upset in every regard.
Anthony is asserting that the Nuggets wanted to erase his legacy by giving Jokic his number — but most second round picks flame out and never make an impact. It’s truly wild that Jokic will go down as a significantly better player than Melo in the all-time rankings.
Jokic revealed why he chose No. 15 in a recent interview conducted by Orlando Magic star Paolo Banchero. Jokic said he chose No. 15 because it was the biggest jersey available when he was growing up.
Anthony Randolph also wore Anthony’s No. 15 before Jokic did after Melo left.
Maybe Carmelo believes the Nuggets never should have given away his number at all. I understand that, but he did force his way to a new team. Anthony is correct in saying no one should blame Jokic for this.
In reality, there’s no conspiracy here at all, and it’s pretty delusional and self-absorbed of Melo to believe so. Anthony had an awesome, Hall of Fame career, and he deserved to have his jersey retired in Denver despite the bitter end.
Unfortunately, Melo is not the greatest No. 15 in Nuggets history. That’s Nikola Jokic, always and forever.