Carmelo Anthony felt the love in his return to Madison Square Garden Wednesday night — Knicks fans still adore Anthony, even if he’s now wearing a Trail Blazers’ uniform.
Anthony is picturing a more permanent return to the Garden.
Not as a player, but with his jersey retired in the rafters along with other Knicks’ legends. Via Tim Bontemps of ESPN, Anthony was asked after the game Wednesday if the Knicks should retire his jersey:
“I don’t know,” Anthony said with a smile. “You gotta ask them.”
Then he added with a laugh, “I did glance up at the rafters today during the national anthem. You know, they say in life you’ve got to envision, so I was envisioning seeing Anthony hanging up there.”
The day before, Anthony told 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.”
If you asked the fans in Madison Square Garden Wednesday night if ‘Melo’s jersey should be retired, they would have roared their approval.
But should the Knicks retire Anthony’s jersey?
‘Melo played six-and-a-half seasons in New York and he was an All-Star in every one. This was the prime of his Hall of Fame career and he averaged 24.7 points and seven rebounds a game, was named All-NBA twice while a Knick, won the league scoring title in 2013, and set the franchise record with 62 points in a game at MSG.
But without any meaningful playoff success, is that enough?
The Knicks have retired eight players’ jerseys: Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, Earl Monroe, Bill Bradley, Dick Barnett, Dick McGuire, and Dave DeBusschere. Six of those players were champions with the Knicks, the other two are Ewing and McGuire (a Hall of Fame point guard from the 1950s). That means players such as Bernard King and Charles Oakley have not been honored with a retired number (no way Oakley gets his number in the rafters while James Dolan still owns the team).
Where should the Knicks draw the line on who gets a jersey retired? If the criteria is “Hall of Fame career with best years as a Knick” then Anthony qualifies, but so does King and he does not have his number hanging. Is there a measure of playoff success required?
Knicks’ ownership ultimately makes that call, but we know what Anthony is envisioning.Follow @basketballtalk