Funny how the NBA universe works out sometimes.
This week the slate of games features some tasty treats if you’re a jilted fan living in Denver, Orlando and Portland. In today’s Blazer section, I wrote about the return of Raymond Felton and the expected negative reaction he’ll receive this Thursday night. But Felton has company. He may not get it the worst, because this week Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony both return for the first time to the teams that they abandoned.
Howard will be wearing Laker purple when he returns to Orlando on Tuesday while Anthony and his new team, the New York Knicks, visit the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday.
It’s been a while and “The Decision” along with the subsequent “Dwightmare” caused us to forget the train wreck that was Anthony’s last season and a half in Denver. In 2010, Anthony did not handle his pending free agency well and allowed the “will he, won’t he” narrative to gain steam. Finally, the Nuggets made the bold move – and the right one – and shipped him east for half of New York. The Nuggets may not have that single super star, but they’ve got one of the best records in the Western Conference and will be a tough out come playoff time.
Then there’s Howard. How can we forget the vacillation in action? The Man of Steel with the backbone of puddy? The Pepsi swig heard ’round the world?*** Howard flirted with leaving, then said he wanted to stay, only to demand – through his endless bevy of “unnamed sources” – that he wanted to go to Brooklyn. It was all so tiresome for anyone who watched the indecision, but imagine what it must have been like for the Magic fans?
Felton came to Portland for only one lockout-shortened season and didn’t even play the full 66-game schedule. But the folks in Denver and Orlando have longer, stronger ties to their prodigal sons. Anthony and Howard were drafted by those teams, their games were nurtured and raised there to become All-Stars and Olympic champions. Then after spending years in those cities, they leave the small-town franchises for the two biggest markets in the NBA. And please don’t be naive enough to say: “well, they were traded, it wasn’t their fault.” They orchestrated their departures, one sloppy exit after the other.
So with three consecutive days of homecomings, here’s the question du jour: Who will be booed the worst this week?
A. Howard on Tuesday
B. Anthony on Wednesday
C. Felton on Thursday
***Okay, three quick things that make that press conference so brilliantly amazing.
It’s hilarious to me that the other rabble rouser, Carmelo Anthony, makes a cameo here when Stan Van Gundy pretends that defending ‘Melo worries him more than whether or not he’ll lose his job.
You can spot the moment when Van Gundy spots Howard walking towards him, it’s at the 2:42 mark. Just watch his eyes and notice the change in inflection with his voice – it’s the look and sound of a man plotting 10 different ways to escape.
When this happened last year, the Orlando Magic official team website uploaded the entire bizarre press conference… unedited! Much respect to that web master.