Carmelo Anthony heard the boos rain down on him from the Denver crowd and then promptly rained down threes to help the Portland Trail Blazers earn a 123-109 win over the Nuggets in Game 1 of their first-round series.
When asked by reporters about his reception, Anthony downplayed the impact of any negativity:
"It's cool, man. I love them too. I love those guys too. It's been, what, almost 10 years now since I've been here? The love is there. They love me; they hate me. I can't do nothing about that. Just go out there and smile, enjoy myself and have fun. Whatever they have to say, let them say it. It's not my concern."
Nuggets fans still clearly hold a grudge against Anthony for forcing his way to the New York Knicks during the 2010-11 season. Melo spent his first seven-plus years with the Nuggets before strong-arming a trade to New York.
"What else can they do?" Anthony said of the fans. "I don't know what it is. I gave my all here for seven-and-a-half years. I've never said anything bad about Denver, about fans, the organization, players. I never complained. I took everything on the chin even when it wasn't my fault."
To be fair, Nuggets fans may want to thank Anthony for forcing a midseason trade rather than simply leaving for New York in free agency. Denver parlayed its Melo trade into a well-rounded roster that made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons after the deal. Had Anthony waited for his impending free agency, the Nuggets likely would have bottomed out toward the bottom of the Western Conference.
Anthony, meanwhile, made just three playoff appearances during his Knicks tenure as the team struggled to find co-stars.
That said, Melo was shaping up to be perhaps the most iconic player in Nuggets history. The type of betrayal fans feel when a player pushes for an exit rarely subsides—barring a LeBron James-esque return.