Carmelo Anthony will play his first game against his former team Saturday, as the Oklahoma City Thunder head to the Big Apple to face the New York Knicks, and Melo says his emotional ties to the city and team, have created some anticipation on his end.
“Walking in there, it will be a little emotional,’’ Anthony told a group of reporters at a recent Thunder press gathering. “Being back there and running out of the other side of the tunnel, seeing people who I became close to, seeing my family who I can’t see much now because I’m in Oklahoma City, seeing my wife. Having them there is very important.”
In terms of emotional matchups, the Thunder secured a triple-overtime victory against the Sixers that saw Melo get into a brief verbal exchange with the league’s unofficial trash-talking champ Joel Embiid.
Joel Embiid scores on Melo and has some words for him 👀👀👀 pic.twitter.com/nMm86OZP1X— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) December 16, 2017
Anthony spent seven seasons in New York, and during that time he experienced his fair share of ups and downs. From allegedly issuing an ultimatum that led to Mike D’Antoni’s 2012 resignation, to the nauseating nightmare that was Phil Jackson’s stewardship of the franchise, Melo was there for it all.
Jackson’s repeated public derision of Melo is widely believed to have been the catalyst for his move to OKC. On September 22, Knicks’ brass traded Anthony to Oklahoma City for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second-round draft pick.
The blockbuster trade paired Anthony with 2016 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook and NBA All Star Paul George. Thus far, the Thunder have underachieved with a 14-14 record heading into Saturday’s game. The Knicks have fared slightly better at 15-13, led primarily by Melo’s former mentee Kristaps Porzingis.
“I think he was as professional as he could be in his time here in New York,’’ Porzingis told Marc Berman of the New York Post. “I don’t see why they wouldn’t receive him with love.”
Per ESPN, that “love” will reportedly include a video tribute to Melo during Saturday night’s game.