Carmelo Anthony turned 37 on Saturday, but because of his responsibilities as an NBA player, he couldn’t go out and celebrate the occasion properly. Instead, he had to play in the first round of the postseason as the Portland Trail Blazers tried to knot things up with the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 of their series.
Fortunately for him, his home fans at the Moda Center made sure to share their appreciation for Anthony at the end of the victory. During a stoppage, the arena organ player started playing the happy birthday song, and every fan in the building joined in on the celebration.
It was something of a full-circle moment for Anthony on several levels. Blazers players attempted to recruit him to Portland when he was still an All-Star and had a no-trade clause, but Anthony wasn’t interested in Portland at that point. He only joined the Blazers when he had no other choice, but the fans still embraced him as one of their own.
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The other fans in this series still haven’t forgiven Anthony for a decade-old slight. The first two games took place in Denver, and Nuggets fans booed Anthony because of the trade request he issued in 2011. Few players in basketball are viewed as differently among competing fan bases as Anthony right now. One city in this series is booing him while the other is singing to him. It’s a fitting situation for a player as divisive as Anthony has been during his career. Denver may not be willing to forgive Carmelo for leaving, but Portland is just happy he came in the first place.