I reached out to a number of longtime Denver Nuggets fans and season ticket holders to get their thoughts on the Carmelo Anthony situation...
The following comments come from real season ticket holders and/or fans who have been buying Nuggets tickets for more than 20 years. These are the fans who literally "pay the price" so that the Carmelo Anthony's of the world can make exorbitant salaries. These are also the fans that the Kroenkes and others high up in the Nuggets organization (especially the ticket sales folks) should be listening closely to. Without fans willing to shell out lots of money to watch a 48-minute basketball game, the Nuggets cannot exist.
Not wanting to trouble anyone too much during their work day, I asked three simple questions of these fans. Here is a sampling of their responses and I've used their initials only to respect their privacy.
Note the overwhelming agreement among ticket-paying fans to send Melo packing and possibly a few of his teammates - including Chauncey Billups and J.R. Smith - along with him. Oh, and clearly the Nuggets franchise means a lot more to these fans than whomever is wearing the jersey at any particular time. Regardless, if these fans even remotely represent Nuggets season ticket holders and ticket buyers, the Nuggets are in for a revenue hit after Melo leaves. These fans - rightly - don't believe prices should be the same in a post-Melo world.
If you're a season ticket holder and/or buyer, I'd love to get your comments, as well. Go Nuggets!
QUESTION #1: Given how unlikely it is that Carmelo Anthony will re-sign in Denver, do you want to see him traded before the trade deadline or ride out the season?
DF: If he won't sign, trade him before the deadline to any team looking to create cap room for next year.
MB: Yes. Trade him.
CR: Yes. (Trade him)
LS: Definitely trade him for whatever we can get.
RM: Yes of course. Might as well get something. Also sooner the better so the new leader of our franchise can emerge. Chauncey is losing his legs. Nene shows signs. J.R. is too immature. Al Harrington maybe?
KP: The sooner the better, with the following caveat. The NBA is a business and I understand why the Nuggets and/or Carmelo wouldn't want to disclose their absolute position, but if Carmelo truly has no desire to stay here, then I say THE SOONER, THE BETTER! and let's move on.
KM: Yes and take LaLa with ya!
RR: Yes. The "drama" surrounding this is mounting, thanks in large part to LeBron. I think that Nuggets Fans (in my opinion) want to support a known, stable team.
KT: I think you have to consider if the Nuggets are a better team with Melo or without him. I think it is obvious that they are better with him. Given that, I think what we're most concerned about is not having a situation like what happened with Mutombo or for shorter memories, what happened with LBJ and Bosh. I think what Melo really wants is to play out this season with the Nuggets and become a free agent and go wherever he wants even though that will likely cost him millions of dollars.
It's interesting to think what this team, as it is currently constructed, could do if they were healthy at the end of the year. Look what a lift Birdman gave when he was in a few games ago. I think that possibility intrigues Melo enough to be interested in staying to the end of the year too. If they could get to the WCF again or even the NBA finals would Melo be motivated to stay? It's a huge risk with lots of money at stake for everyone concerned. If Melo has managed his money well over the years, then he shouldn't have to work again as long as he lives and that increases the desirability for him of playing out the season with the Nuggets. On the other side of it, no matter what happens could cost the Nuggets millions.
You have to think that Melo would be nuts to want to go to the Nets. Even the Knicks seem iffy to me.
It's better to trade him for something than to wind up with nothing. The unfortunate thing is that it doesn't seem to me that anybody is offering an All Star player for him and instead seem to think the the Nuggets should take draft picks and players with potential. I've had way too many years of rebuilding. The fact of the matter is that in this day of early exits from college, even the best rookies don't make that much of an impact.
Look at the ABA survivors. The Spurs won championships because they got extremely lucky in getting Robinson and Duncan. The Nets got to the NBA finals with KMart and Jason Kidd. The Pacers have been to the finals. The Nuggets have made the WCF, what? Twice? We deserve better than that. Who knew that when John Williams took over the game to win the last ABA championship for the Nets that would be the closest the Nuggets would come to a championship for more than 20 years?
QUESTION #2: Will you pay for tickets or renew your season tickets next season if Carmelo Anthony is traded?
DF: Yes, but less games and prices better be cheaper.
RM: No choice, won't ever give up my seats. Although I think the pricing is ridiculous for people that don't own their own business.
KP: Sure! It's a business and the Nuggets brass will have to just work harder to re-configure the team without Carmelo.
RR: Yes. There was basketball before Melo and will be after he is gone.
KT: It is difficult for me to go to games unless I get seats that don't involved a lot of stairs and even then it's difficult for me to sit in the tiny Pepsi center seats. Dish network knows how much of my TV time is spent on the Nuggets.
QUESTION #3: Any other comments on the Carmelo Anthony situation?
DF: In hindsight, I blame Cleveland for "The Decision" with LeBron James. How do they let their superstar's contract expire without him signing an extension? If you don't sign a max offer on the table with the team you are playing for, that means you have intentions of playing elsewhere. PERIOD. Denver has seen this movie before, so we will hopefully show that we've learned from Cleveland's experience...
MB: Get him outta here!
CR: I haven’t been going to games because it’s hard to root for a team that isn’t a part of the future. It’s very hard to succumb to pulling for Carmelo when he’s playing this out as a business and is obviously gone. I would rather get behind a less talented team than play games with this mirage of a team we have now. I’m going Thursday but am not excited about it because it’s the Carmelo show. It’s very distracting, I’m sick of hearing about it, talking about it, or cheering for a product that I’m in essence renting. Get on with it. As long as we’re at it, take JR and maybe Chauncey (although I’m sure that won’t happen). Let’s go the direction of the Avs and see what happens.
LS: Just don’t lose him as a free agent - we aren’t going to win this year anyway. While we’re at it, we should probably try to trade Billups to a team in contention and start the re-building process in full force.
RP: I think the key point is that it does not matter what happens regarding Melo. The NBA has the least competitive balance of the four major sports, and only a few elite teams when the Championship year in and year out. The Nuggets are going to be stuck with the likes of Bucks, Mavericks, Clippers, Hawks, Warriors, etc. like most of the league. I looked it up, and since 1983 only seven franchises have won the NBA Championship. Compare that to:
· 15 Super Bowl winners
· 18 World Series winners
· 14 Stanley Cup winners
RM: Thanks for seven years. Don't let the door hit Yoko LaLa on the way out.
JS: If they trade Melo, they might as well trade Billups and J.R. Smith (to Chicago) in order to clean up the team.
KM: Just a matter of time before Billups is gone, too. Good luck to Melo selling his house with a recording studio, etc.
RR: My wife and I love Melo. We’ve been fortunate to know him since "the kid" arrived in Denver. We watched him grow, get married and become a father. He has without a doubt been the cornerstone of the team’s success in the last few years. While it would be sad to see him go, players in any sport have limited years to play. I don’t blame him for looking for the best deal for he and his family. He doesn’t owe the fans in Denver any more than he’s already given. We don’t "own" him… or any other player for that matter.
Professional sports players stay with a secure, well-run team. While the Nuggets are not by far the worst run team… they are not the best either. Years and years of being at Nuggets games has taught us that the Nuggets are not respected in the NBA. We’re not… and likely never will be… a team the NBA wants to market. Our players will never get "the calls". They will always have a history of "bad" that NBA fans point to long before any "good". This said… Melo is likely NOT being well advised. He is a "commodity" that his handlers are trying to market to make the most money. It is, without a doubt, all about the money. They are not interested in positioning him to get a "Ring". He is a business and a business is about making money. Nothing else. I feel sorry for him actually. I really hope he makes the right decision for himself… whatever that may bring for the Nuggets. I’d rather see a happy Melo playing against us than an unhappy one playing for us.