This is gonna be awkward...
I wouldn't want Tomago Collins' job right now. Collins is the Nuggets Vice President of Media and Player Development and is responsible for handling all interview requests, media access and press conferences for the Nuggets. In other words, he's responsible for protecting the Nuggets organization and the players, and controlling the message...as if that's possible anymore.
If Nuggets media day kicks off tomorrow with Carmelo Anthony present, Collins will have his hands full as many members of the national NBA and sports media will likely descend on Denver until something happens with #15. (Incidentally, I guess my invite to media day was lost in the mail. Sniff, sniff.) The questions about Anthony's future will be fast-coming and endless, and the Nuggets will soon yearn for the days when just a few local reporters were snooping around the locker room and practice floor.
But while things are sure to be awkward for Collins, the coaching staff, the front office and the rest of the Nuggets players in advance of training camp, it's going to be equally awkward for the fans. Should the bizarrest of bizarre circumstances come to pass and Anthony ends up playing for the Nuggets for some - or perhaps all - of the 2010-11 Nuggets season, what are we supposed to do? Are we supposed to root for a player we all want to stay but clearly doesn't want to stay with us? Are we supposed to cheer for a guy who said "no, thanks" to a $65 million extension (and remember, including Melo's player option 2011-12 season, it's effectively an $83.5 million extension) after we've stood by him through multiple off-the-court incidents and on-the-court suspensions?
For once I feel like I'm on the same page with most Nuggets fans on this Carmelo Anthony "Melodrama": our preference would be for Anthony to stay, but if he doesn't want to be here we want to get more in trade than what Cleveland and Toronto received for LeBron James and Chris Bosh, respectively, which was effectively nothing. Probably like many of you, I was resigned to get the sixty-five-cents-on-the-dollar deal that Andrei Kirilenko, Derrick Favors and two first round picks for Anthony would have been (I'd have much preferred a deal including another Andre - the one named Iguodala - but supposedly that deal is dead). But as of this writing, it appears as though Melo is coming to Denver. For how long is anybody's guess.
And now I'm not sure what I'm rooting for.
For starters, Anthony has a lot of explaining to do whether he's a Nugget, a Net or even a Globetrotter. Anthony needs to explain why he has hijacked the Nuggets offseason with reported trade demands, why he wants out of a great city and a great organization and why he no longer wants to play for a great coach who gives him as much leniency on the court as any coach in the NBA would (sans Mike D'Antoni). It's time for Melo to face the music and own up to all this. After all, this convoluted mess is his creation.
Throughout the Melo-saga, I've never begrudged Anthony for wanting to play elsewhere. That's his choice regardless of how painful the outcome would be for Nuggets fans. All I've asked for all off-season long is a straight answer from #15, and sooner than later so that the Nuggets can prepare for a post-Melo era in Denver. And here we are, on the precipice of training camp, and it's unclear as to what Anthony really wants to do and what it will take to make this guy happy.
Imagine a scenario in which Anthony suits up in a Nuggets uniform on opening night against the Utah Jazz. Should we cheer boisterously when his name is announced on the PA system and every time he touches the ball? Or should we boo Anthony mercilessly for ruining our summer and being yet another prima donna athlete that's all-about-me as opposed to all-about-we? Until we hear from Anthony directly, I'm going to reserve judgment on how I'll treat the Melo man should he be wearing a Nuggets jersey when the pre-season and/or regular season begins.
Fans can be quite forgiving and have short memories. I was living in Los Angeles in 2007 when Kobe Bryant was booed endlessly on opening night after spending all summer demanding a trade like a toddler throwing a tantrum. But 45 points, eight rebounds and four steals later into a nail-biting 95-93 loss to the Rockets, the Staples Center crowd was resoundingly behind Bryant. Oddly enough, it might be Bryant - Colorado sports fans' enemy #1 - who ends up being the Nuggets savior should Melo stay in Denver. According to Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears, Bryant has been advising Melo throughout this process and has told Melo to weigh his options carefully. Could it have been Bryant's advice that has led Melo to (allegedly) get cold feet about going to the 12-win Nets?
I guess I'm rooting for Melo to come into camp, realize that Denver is where he belongs and ink that extension to stay in the Mile High City rather than sign it only to be traded elsewhere. But anything short of that, it's tough to justify being a Carmelo Anthony fan right now.