Since Carmelo Anthony signed with the Portland Trail Blazers in November, New York Knicks fans were looking forward to showing the love to the veteran forward. On Wednesday evening, they took full advantage of that opportunity as Anthony received a standing ovation at Madison Square Garden.
Anthony was introduced to a healthy chorus of applause despite suiting up for the visiting team.
After all, Anthony called New York home for seven seasons before the franchise traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder prior to the 2017-18 season. Anthony led the Knicks to the playoffs in three of those seasons, including the 2012-13 campaign in which New York defeated the Boston Celtics in the opening round.
There certainly was something special about being back in the world's most famous arena for Anthony. In fact, the Trail Blazers forward scored a season-high 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting while securing seven rebounds and hitting three of his five attempts from beyond the arc.
"The love was definitely felt tonight," Anthony said following the game, according to ESPN. "From the fans that were here, just the city as a whole, just being back. I think that feeling is kind of hard to explain. But for me to kind of get that ovation, I think I've always had the love from the city like that. But to be back in this building where I spent so many years, that love felt extremely good tonight."
After being a question mark prior to being signed, Anthony has shown that he still has plenty of gas left in the tank. In 20 games this season, the former Knick is averaging 16.2 points-per-game and has topped the 20-point mark seven times after Wednesday's sensational performance.
"I just wanted to come in and be out there and, at the end of the day, just play basketball," Anthony added. "Of course, being back on that court is special."
The Trail Blazers faced the Knicks earlier this season, but that game took place in Portland. Anthony did have 16 points and knocked down three of four attempts from deep in that one, but nothing compares to the allure of Madison Square Garden and a place that he called home for so long.
Despite Anthony's best efforts, he couldn't will the Trail Blazers to victory. Still, the 18-year pro produced a vintage game of sorts in which he had his jump shot working and hit quite a few turnaround shots on the likes of RJ Barrett and Julius Randle.
It's unclear if Anthony plans to play beyond this season and where that will be if he does. Even if this was it, Anthony got a chance to showcase his talents one more time in front of Knicks fans and he certainly made the most of it.