If it was up to Carmelo Anthony, he never would have left the Nuggets in 2011.
The 37-year-old Lakers forward recollected his trade to the Knicks along with other experiences in his basketball career on the latest episode of “All the Smoke” with former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson.
Here’s a look at some of the highlights from Anthony on his time in Denver:
On being drafted by the Nuggets:
“I ain’t never seen no mountains before, I ain’t never seen no snow caps. It was hard, but you just felt the energy going into Denver. They just threw the ball at me — it’s yours. I was 19 when they did that. I ain’t think about no pressure. It was like, “this is mine,” Bron had Cleveland, D-Wade was in Miami, Bosh was in Toronto, everybody had their own situation. …
“You held your own team down back then. I jumped out to a great start in Denver. We made the playoffs seven years straight. My first year I made, Bron didn’t make it. It was like, ‘I loved Denver.’”
On not winning rookie of the year:
“I should have.”
On playing in Denver:
“We were the Thuggets back then. We were hardcore. Even though we weren’t winning, we were still having fun playing the game of basketball.
“You weren’t coming to Denver and it was easy, you know? You couldn’t breathe in Denver, so let’s get them to the fourth quarter. That fourth quarter we would drown them.”
On playing Kobe Bryant in the Western Conference Finals:
The greatest man. That was my moment when me and Kob became — before that we went to the Olympics, we became very close — but we became close on some disrespectful (stuff). You know, Kob, he’s going after your neck. He’s smirking and throwing his little elbows.
“’09 came. We hugged and he’s said, ‘it’s war.’”
On Bryant off the court:
“He pulled me to the side during the Olympics and said, you’re a bad mother (expletive).
“For me as a young player, four years in the league at that time, you want nothing more than for someone like that to come to you like, ‘You’re a bad mother (expletive).’ That was respect. When he did that, I knew it took a lot out of him to tell me.”
On the Nuggets’ mentality:
“I just remember us having fun, just so much fun on the road, you know we were road warriors, man. We partied. The Denver Nuggets partied. The Nuggets we were partying. AI would have a party over here. K-Mart would have a party over here. I got a party over here. We’re going to party and we’re going to come play and come work the next day.”
On the trade out of Denver:
“Contrary to what anyone believes, I never wanted to leave Denver. I never told people that, but I never wanted to leave Denver. But they put my back against the wall.
“You go to the Western Conference Finals in ’09, what are you supposed to do? You’re supposed to build on that. You’re supposed to add people.
“They got rid of Dahntay Jones. On that team, Dahntay was a key piece on that team. They’re like, we ain’t re-signing Chauncey. We’re about to trade J.R., K-Mart’s contract was up and the lockout’s coming? So, I’m not about to rebuild after we went to the Western Conference Finals.
“I don’t want to go, but if y’all going to rebuild, it’s time for me to go somewhere else.”
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