The NBA trade deadline on February 24th looms ever closer, and the verdict on which jersey Carmelo Anthony will don for the remainder of the season is still very much up in the air. Possible trade options regarding the Denver Nuggets star have been circulating constantly through various avenues of sports media ever since the 2010-2011 season began in October. Melo’s current $80 million contract expires in July, a fact that has created a media frenzy in recent months.
In any sport, trade talk surrounding a star player can have a huge impact on the cohesion and success of the team as a whole. Fans that have watched a certain athlete perform spectacularly time and time again, develop a strong relationship with that athlete. It’s no shock, then, that these fans will quickly turn on the athlete if they feel they were abandoned or betrayed. It’s a tough decision for any famous sports player, as their own emotions, their desire to win championships, their legacy, and their future all come into play. They worry about disappointing fans and teammates alike. Public relations play a huge role in this part of the star athlete’s life, as it separates those remembered as team legends from those stuck in fan-fueled infamy.
Carmelo’s situation with the Denver Nuggets has been a public relations nightmare for this entire basketball season. His request to be traded was no doubt warranted. In over thirty years, the Nuggets have never even made it to the finals, despite recent impressive season and post-season performances with Melo on the roster. In his five-year career he has put up outstanding offensive numbers and led the Nuggets from a spot at the bottom of the NBA, to being consistent play-off contenders. Carmelo’s desire to win championships and resulting frustration over the last few seasons as a Nugget has led to him expressing his desire to leave the club that drafted him 5 years ago. He’s made it clear to the fans and his team that although he will continue to give his best efforts while in Denver, he doesn’t want to be there. Of course, the fans are going to react accordingly. He continues to post big scoring numbers and has kept his team at the top of the league this season, and yet fans boo him during home games. As the deadline nears and more and more teams are beginning to drop out of the Carmelo trade picture, a new question arises: What will happen to Melo if he is either forced or chooses to stay in Denver?
It’s difficult to relate to sports fans in a city that rallies behind an all-star athlete until you’ve been in their shoes. So is the booing by Denver’s fans an overreaction? Carmelo definitely could have lessened the blow, and effectively made things easier for himself should he stay. Simply stating how much he wishes he could stay in Denver definitely would have helped. He could have showed more support in the city that gave him his first shot in the NBA. He could have said that if things were different, if the team meshed together more effectively, than there’s no doubt he would have stayed. By supporting a team that was built around him and a coach that has always trusted in him, he could have stayed in the hearts of most Denver fans. Instead, he’s focusing on where he’s going rather than where he’s been. He now faces possibly playing for fans that have turned against him for more years to come.