NEW YORK CITY – New Year’s Day had been circled on New York Knicks fans and media's calendars since the Trail Blazers signed Carmelo Anthony back on November 19th.
Even though it wasn’t the outcome Anthony wanted, it was a night full of cheers, hugs, picture taking and smiles all around.
Wednesday night was the Trail Blazers fifth straight loss after the Knicks took control in the fourth quarter, but it was also a night that the city of New York City celebrated Anthony.
“The love was definitely felt tonight -- from the fans that were here, just from the city as a whole. Just being back, I think that feeling is kind of hard to explain, but for me to get that kind of ovation, I think I’ve always gotten the love from the city like that. To be back in this building where I spent so many years, that love felt extremely good tonight,” Melo said after Wednesday’s loss.
While waiting for Melo to talk with the media after the game, the swarm of New York reporters reminisced about what once was with the future Hall of Famer playing in NYC.
Reporters, fans, and Melo all had that sense of nostalgia.
Knicks fans showered Anthony with a loud ovation from introductions to the final minutes when he was sitting on the bench and they chanted, "we want Melo!"
The 35-year-old admitted he didn’t know exactly what to expect when it came to how the fans would receive him.
“I was prepared for whatever. Mentally, I was prepared. It wasn’t something that I actually spent a lot of time thinking about. I wanted to come in and have a good game, try to win the game and be a part of this environment once again.”
Melo beamed while talking about how it felt to be back.
Being back on that court it’s special. – Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony postgame
It was a special night, and a big scoring night for him personally. He finished with a season-high 26 points on an efficient 11-for-17 shooting to go along with seven rebounds.
It was also a night he had a vision about the future.
When Anthony was asked postgame if he thinks his No. 7 jersey would eventually be retired by the Knicks, he responded with a smile and said, “I don’t know you have to ask them.”
But, that doesn’t mean Melo wasn’t thinking about that possibility.
I did glance up at the rafters today during the National Anthem. They say in life that you’ve got to envision, so I was envisioning it hanging up there.
As Melo walked out of the visitor's locker room, he was stopped for a couple of photo opportunities; he also shook hands with some of the MSG employees.
The love wasn’t just felt from the fans. Many who worked at MSG loved Anthony as well.
It’s hard to think that his vision of No. 7 being retired one day wouldn't happen.
That could be the ultimate way to show their love for Melo.