During his recent appearance on the podcast “The Old Man and The Three,” Carmelo Anthony and J.J. Reddick took a long trip down memory lane in which they discussed everything from being in the same McDonalds All-American class together to how the modern NBA has evolved.
When asked about his time in Denver, Melo reminisced on his days with the Nuggets and gave us plenty of insight into an era that laid the foundations for the team’s future success in the ‘mile-high’ city:
Melo started his professional career in Denver when he got drafted by the Nuggets as the 3rd overall pick in arguably one of the greatest draft classes ever, the class of 2003. His arrival to Denver came with a complete re-branding of the organization both on and off the court:
“We created a culture in Denver. We changed the uniforms from navy blue and maroon/burgundy to Carolina blue/sky blue, you know, like, the Denver blue now. So we really changed the culture in Denver step-by-step. Because we knew that a lot of people didn’t want to go to Denver, wasn’t gonna come to Denver. We knew we weren’t gonna get any big stars to come actually come to Denver, so we really had to create a culture where people wanted to come.”Carmelo Anthony, “The Old Man and The Three”
You might be wondering what kind of culture was Melo talking about, well, here is the answer:
That same culture (un)fortunately got associated with the group of players that played for the Nuggets during that era, fan favorites such as Allen Iverson, JR Smith, Kenyon Martin, Marcus Camby, Chris Andersen, Nenê, Andre Miller, Dahntay Jones, Earl Boykins, Ty Lawson to name a few.
Some of these teams were truly legendary like the 2006/2007 squad led by Melo and AI or the 2008/2009 squad that managed to make it all the way to the WCF thanks to the veteran leadership of Chauncey Billups and the scoring power of Anthony.
The Nuggets teams from 2004 – 2009 definitely had a wild cast of characters whose appearance (tattoos), swagger (shoes), and style of play (flashy) earned them the not so flattering nickname the Denver ‘Thuggets’. Still, those same teams led by Melo wore that nickname with pride and owned it:
“We had ‘Birdman’ [Chris Andersen] on our team when the ‘Birdman’ aura was like, it was traded with us. You know, it was like a wild thang. He would come out on the court with the mohawk; he had his own theme music when he came out, he had his own bird call when he blocked a shot. So we had all these [unique] personalities.”Carmelo Anthony, “The Old Man and The Three”
Melo went on to explain that during his time with the Nuggets, the culture they created there started attracting guys like Dennis Rodman, Shawn Kemp, and even Master P!
On top of that Carmelo spent the longest stretch of his career in Denver and with the help of his former teammates created a hardcore Nuggets fanbase. ‘Long Live the Thuggets!’ The Bad Boys of the 2000s’.