With all that has gone on with Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets, I've had to do some soul searching and try to find out what it means to be a fan.
Why is it we have focused almost entirely on Carmelo Anthony as being some sort of boogeyman when he showed the first indication of "hesitation to sign the $65 million extension"? Is it because it's easier to get angry at your best player when he seems to turn his nose up at money we would all gladly take? Is it perceived disloyalty to an organization or a city? Or is it the desire to hurt someone before they hurt you?
These really are hard questions and they go to core of what it means to be a fan. Every soul in Nuggets Nation has wrestled with these thoughts be they pro-Melo or anti-Melo. Even though I've been firmly on the pro-Melo side I can honestly say I've had these thoughts of anger directed toward Melo because I remember all too well the 1990's and what life was like before Carmelo's arrival in Denver in 2003.
Why are we Nuggets fans? I can tell you from my own perspective that I distinctly remember how angry my dad was watching Alex English break his hand on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's elbow in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals in 1985. I was seven years-old and I remember crying when the Nuggets, despite a valiant effort, lost the next game to the Lakers and ultimately losing 4-1 to the eventual champs. I was hooked. From then on I gobbled up anything Nuggets related. English was my favorite Nugget, I even had my dad buy me his book The English Language and I watched that truly horrible, preachy Amazing Grace & Chuck starring English and Jamie Lee Curtis. I remember being quite angry when the Nuggets brought in Walter Davis and cut English's minutes dramatically. How could they treat my favorite player this way? I used to hate it when Davis came into the game and I would boo at the TV. Eventually English left for the Dallas Mavericks and Doug Moe was fired (after the David Stern-aided purchase of the Nuggets by Peter Bynoe and Bertram Lee).
With the benefit of hindsight I can see why the Nuggets cut back English's minutes. His production had decreased and they needed Davis to bolster the scoring output lost with English's drop-off. Yet, when you are a fan of a player it's hard to see the forest for the trees. All I could see is they cut English's minutes and then unceremoniously let him go.
Many of you are either too young or became fans of the Nuggets long after the 80's version of the Nuggets passed. I'm only 32 years-old so I SHOULD be too young. All in all, however, this got me thinking about the the parallels to Carmelo and our reactions as fans.
I firmly believe, and I will until he's gone, that there's always hope to keep Carmelo Anthony with the Denver Nuggets. I'm not going to be level-headed and rational about it. If he leaves I will be upset and think of all the horrific things that will befall the Nuggets. The organization doesn't do one very important thing well: rebuilding. It's worked once, with Carmelo and we got EXTREMELY lucky that Joe Dumars selected Darko Milicic. Does anyone here actually trust this organization to do the right thing? Color me pessimistic.
The 90's were filled with incompetent ownership, horrific GM's and a brand of basketball so bad it's actually been outlawed in 49 of the 50 states. We've had stability with Stan Kroenke, yes. My fear is Stan (and team President Josh Kroenke) will choose to blow up the team (a la the Avalanche) and proceed on some misguided "we can kinda win by penny pinching" model. The NBA has no real minor league system and player "development" in the NBA is quite spotty. For every Oklahoma City, you have a Los Angeles Clippers or Minnesota Timberwolves. My fear is Stan/Josh will try to copy the Avs with unproven management and plunge Denver into an abyss where mediocrity is considered a good season. The kicker is, I think Stan/Josh will choose to go this direction regardless of Carmelo being here.
I'm a fan, I always will be. My favorite player of all time was cast aside in 1990 and, while it upset me greatly, I remained a fan. If Carmelo goes, some of you may choose to follow other teams. I wont. I'll still be here. If other Nuggets fans and I can survive the black hole that was the 90's then we can survive whatever is ahead of us now.
Point is, the Nuggets will most likely have fan favorites, and we will grow to like them as much as we do Melo and Alex English, or David Thompson, or even Chris Andersen. Doesn't mean we have to like it if they go.