Carmelo Anthony Says a 15-Game Suspension and an Eye-Opening Conversation With David Stern Helped Him Realize ‘the NBA Was a Part of the Feds’: ‘He’s Telling Me, “I Know What They’re Doing”’

When Carmelo Anthony entered the NBA with the Denver Nuggets in 2003, he immediately became one of the league’s biggest stars. The No. 3 overall pick that year proved he was a lethal scorer right out the gate and showed the world why he was such a big-time prospect coming out of high school and college.

Melo, however, also had some down times as a young star, and during maybe the most publicized one, he quickly learned just how much power the NBA holds.

Carmelo Anthony received a 15-game suspension while on the Nuggets

Carmelo Anthony and Nate Robinson get into it during a scuffle between the Nuggets and Knicks in 2006.
Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony gets into a scuffle with New York Knicks player Nate Robinson in 2006. | Howard Earl Simmons/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

The 2006-07 NBA campaign was Carmelo Anthony’s fourth year in the league, but it was also the first season the former Nuggets star showed everyone that he was one of the best basketball players on the planet. Anthony earned his first All-Star selection that year with 28.9 points per game to go with 6.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists.

But in December of that season, Anthony — who was the league’s leading scorer at the time but finished the year ranked second — went through a challenging experience with some of his teammates.

During a game against the New York Knicks, a fight broke out between the two teams. According to ESPN, the NBA then suspended seven total players, including guys like J.R. Smith and Nate Robinson. The league, though, punished Anthony the worst after he punched former Knicks wing Mardy Collins, as the Syracuse product received a 15-game suspension.

The severity of the discipline was surprising, so Anthony had a conversation with then-NBA Commissioner David Stern.

It seems that the talk was pretty eye-opening.

Carmelo had an eye-opening conversation with David Stern

NBA legend Carmelo Anthony with the Denver Nuggets in 2006.
Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets during a 2006 NBA playoff game against the Los Angeles Clippers on April 27, 2006. | Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Anthony recently recalled the incident and some of his past mistakes while appearing on Barstool Sports’ Million Dollaz Worth of Game podcast. And it appears that during the aforementioned conversation with Stern, the former Nuggets star learned about the incredible amount of power the NBA actually holds.

“I go speak to him like, ‘Why you do me like that?’” Anthony said on the Sept. 19 episode.

The now-Los Angeles Lakers star said Stern essentially claimed that Anthony’s track record of irresponsible behavior played a role in the decision. Melo also stated that the former commissioner asked him if he wanted to continue going down the path he was on with some of the people who were in his life, or if he wanted to be in the NBA, a corporation worth boatloads of money.

“(Stern said), ‘You gonna leave that alone. I know who you with. I know where you live at; I know where they live at. I know when you close your eyes, I know when you wake up,’” Anthony recalled. “He’s telling me, ‘I know what they’re doing. You either tell them to stop or you gotta cut them off.’ And I’m like, ‘Damn. How the f***?’ That’s when I knew the NBA was a part of the feds.”

The conversation seemed to be perspective-changing for Anthony, and it may have even helped him become an NBA legend.

Carmelo Anthony has since become an NBA legend

Now an 18-year veteran, Anthony said he understands why the league had to keep track of him when he was a young star.

“I get it, if I’m giving you $100 million, I need to know everything. I didn’t understand that at that point in time,” he said. “It took me to get old, to get wiser to be like, ‘Damn, that motherf***** made sense.’”

It seems that Anthony’s decisions from there on out helped him become an all-time great. He has earned 10 All-Star and six All-NBA selections, he led the NBA in scoring in 2012-13, and he averages a career 23.0 points per game. The 37-year-old is also 10th in NBA and 12th in NBA/ABA history in total points scored with 27,370.

It’s unclear just how much of a role that conversation with Stern played in Anthony becoming the future Hall of Famer he is now. But he said the fight with the Knicks was his last immature act as a young star. It appears the entire incident was pretty eye-opening and not only showed him just how powerful the NBA is but also what it takes to be a professional basketball player. 

He’s been a pretty good one, too.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference

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