It has been a couple of years since star forward Carmelo Anthony last played for the New York Knicks. Anthony has bounced around the league with a couple of teams that included a one-year hiatus on the open market. He is back in the league with the Portland Trail Blazers as a critical piece in the puzzle towards their playoff push. Anthony is set to make his first return back to Madison Square Garden since December 2017, which has voiced for the Knicks to honor his time with the franchise in one unique manner, but will they oblige?
Carmelo Anthony’s Knicks tenure
Back in February of 2011, the Knicks had pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal that sent Anthony to his home state after months of speculation around the situation.
The All-Star forward wound up being with the franchise for 6 1/2 seasons, averaging 24.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.2 assists while shooting 44.3 percent from the floor and 36.9 percent from beyond the arc. It was a period that featured plenty of ups and downs, more heavily towards the latter during that stint.
New York had hoped to take steps towards competing for an NBA title with Anthony in tow, but that didn’t equate to sustained success during the stretch. The first 2 1/2 years saw them garner their three straight playoff appearances, with the last being their best after earning the second-best record in the Eastern Conference but falling in six games in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Indiana Pacers.
However, the last four years were torturous at times for the franchise and the loyal fanbase, with the team failing to reach the playoffs even once. That included four straight 50-loss seasons, which led to the team finally deciding to part ways with Anthony after the 2016-17 season.
Carmelo Anthony’s one request for the Knicks
In the time since Anthony last played for New York, a greater appreciation from the fanbase for his tenure with the franchise has arisen.
It was a span in his career that has he has looked back upon fondly despite the lack of consistent success. With his first trip back in just over two years on tap for Wednesday night, Anthony has voiced that he hopes the franchise retires his No. 7 jersey one day, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.
“Do I think about it? Anybody would want to get that opportunity if it’s there,” he said recently. “We’ll see when that time comes. Hopefully, they’ll hang ‘7’ somewhere up there.”
The 35-year-old had spent a bulk of his career with the franchise that saw him put forth some highly productive seasons. It’s hard to gauge whether the Knicks will go that route, but it’s certainly up for debate if they will honor him in that fashion.
Will the Knicks do it?
In their nearly 74-year history, the Knicks have been one of the most historic franchises in league history. That has featured several all-time greats playing for the team, which has led to nine retired jerseys hanging in the rafters at Madison Square Garden.
The shortlist features several notable names, including Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Patrick Ewing, Willis Reed, and Dick Barnett, among others. It has been just over 16 years since the franchise retired Ewing’s No. 33, which begs the question of whether Anthony will be next.
His tenure with the franchise wasn’t glorious or historic by any means, especially over his last four years, but he made his mark in Knicks’ history. Anthony spent many of his prime years with the franchise earning an All-Star selection in each of the seven seasons, both of his All-NBA Second Team nods and an All-NBA Third Team selection.
He didn’t play long enough with the franchise to completely etch himself in many all-time statistical categories. Still, he holds the team record with 31 straight 20-point performances and tied with Hall of Famer Bernard King with three consecutive 40-point outings. His 62-point performance is the highest single-game output in team history and the most ever scored in Madison Square Garden by any player.
Anthony’s tenure in New York featured more downs than ups, but he will likely wind up as a sure-fire Hall of Famer, which in itself could help him earn his jersey retirement.