While Carmelo Anthony is now considered one of the GOATs of the Denver Nuggets franchise, he had some humps early on in his career. Particularly in his rookie year, Anthony got into a tiff with his teammates, which ended in the future Hall of Famer refusing to check into the game.
Poor shot selection
In a 94-75 loss in March 2004 against the Detroit Pistons, Anthony refused to enter in the final six minutes of the contest. Reports reveal that Anthony, then 19 years old, was pissed by his teammates' negative comments on his poor shot selection. After the incident, Anthony cleared the air with his teammates at practice.
"I apologized for quitting. That's not me. That's not me. ... I never did that a day in my life," Anthony told the Denver Post, via ESPN.
In a separate interview, Anthony further broke down what went wrong that night. He reiterated that he's a winner and getting blown out amid a losing streak messed up his headspace.
He admitted that his teammates' comments on his shot selection played a factor, too. Anthony expected to be the franchise star with the green light. Perhaps he didn't expect to be challenged by his very own teammates.
"Well, first of all, I just want everybody to know that I'm a winner. You know me, I wanted to win. I've been winning all my life, and to come into a situation where we lost eight out of nine games -- everybody got frustrated, I got frustrated, and my frustration just took over everything. ... I just felt like everybody was against me at that time -- for four people to question my shot selection at that time."
Carmelo Anthony, ESPN
Running to Michael Jordan for advice
This could've been Anthony's downfall. We've heard stories of young superstars trekking on a downhill journey after an incident unveiled their immaturity. Interestingly, Melo was already under the Jordan brand in his rookie year. Michael Jordan was within arm's reach. Melo did the right thing by running to the GOAT for advice.
To recall, in the 1994 NBA Playoffs — the Chicago Bulls' first year without Jordan — Scottie Pippen refused to check into the game, jealous that Phil Jackson drew up the final play for Toni Kukoc and not him. While Jordan was not present then, the GOAT picked up critical lessons from it, which he passed on to Anthony.
"Well, the first thing he told me was to never let people know how you're feeling. If you got something to say to your teammates, never take it out on the court. Go to the locker room and then get at 'em -- get what's off your chest in the locker room, don't do it on the court. Then he told me just keep my head up, just put this incident in the past, which I tried to do. But the more I tried to put it in the past, the more it got blown up," Anthony said.
It was sage advice from none other than the GOAT. Anthony went on to have a fruitful career with the Nuggets. It was a critical turning point. Anthony was lucky to have a great mentor by his side. Props to Melo for putting his pride aside for his love of the game and his teammates.