Knicks want fans to welcome Carmelo Anthony back to Madison Square Garden

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It's safe to say that the marriage between Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks didn't end well.

You can even make the claim that it was an extremely bitter divorce.

Although Melo played in New York for six-and-a-half seasons and personally delivered at an All-Star level every year, he had been the subject of trade speculation for nearly half his time there.

The team missed the playoffs in each of the last four seasons that Anthony was in town, but he made it very clear that he was happy staying put and playing out at least the rest of his contract there.

However, former Knicks president Phil Jackson publicly stated that Anthony would be better off elsewhere on multiple occasions. The general sense was that Melo was unwanted.

Golden State Warriors v New York Knicks

Throughout the process, Anthony remained professional, at least within the media and in public. He accepted a trade to the Oklahoma City Thunder this summer and agreed to move on, but everything will come full-circle when he returns to Madison Square Garden to play the Knicks on Saturday. Even though he, Russell Westbrook and Paul George took on the Knicks earlier this season, they squared off in Oklahoma City.

This is different.

A few of his former teammates, including Kristaps Porzingis, think he will hear a lot of cheers from the home fans.

New York Knicks v Oklahoma City Thunder

"I think he was as professional as he can be in his time here in New York, so I don't see why they would not receive him with love," Porzingis said Thursday, per ESPN's Ian Begley.

"You've got to respect him being a professional, how he handled everything with the media last year," Courtney Lee said. "You can't fault the guy for going out there and playing hard and leaving it all out there on the court and just trying to help the team win. Whether it was the style that some fans wanted or didn't want, he competed night in and night out."

Charlotte Hornets v New York Knicks

"He knows the arena. He knows the rims, knows the court, knows everything very well," noted Tim Hardaway Jr. "So we expect him to come out here, and no matter how he's shooting the ball from wherever on the court, he's going to come out here, and we're going to treat him like he's an All-Star. And he's coming back home."

When asked whether the 15-13 Knicks are better off without their former star, Porzingis was quick to dismiss the notion.

Charlotte Hornets v New York Knicks

"Not at all. He was here for a long time. For him, it was also hard," he said. "He was trying to do the right things to win, but it was just not clicking. It was not the right pieces around him to make that happen. I know he wants to win. If he didn't want to win, he would have probably stayed here or went somewhere else besides OKC because he has an actual chance to win."

It remains to be seen if Melo will receive love from the Knicks crowd, but judging by the words of the three players above, he should.

Paul George
Indiana Pacers
Central Division
Eastern Conference
Carmelo Anthony
New York Knicks
Atlantic Division
Kristaps Porzingis

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