4 min read

The Denver Post says shame on you, Thunder fans

Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post wasn’t happy with our distaste over Carmelo Anthony’s “injury” last night. He writes today:

With all that said – here’s what I couldn’t believe. When Melo first hit the floor, the Oklahoma City fans started booing (Anthony said the booing was the last thing he remembered before going unconscious). As fans realized Melo was actually down-for-the-count, the held their breath, and then when he finally got up, the fans applauded his bravery and gave him well-wishes via the claps. BUT, Melo came back from the locker room like 5-10 minutes later, and when he re-entered the game, so the OKC fans started BOOING. They continued to boo every time he touched the basketball. I was confused what was going on. There was a fan behind me – sitting with what appeared to be his two young daughters – viciously booing. I asked him why he was doing that, and he said of Melo: “Why did he do that? Lay on the court and then come back just two minutes later?”
What? Were the fans thinking that because Melo was able to come back in the game, that he had duped them into giving him that ovation? Did they think he was faking the injury?
1. Folks, he was laying motionless for minutes. Motionless.
2. If he was faking, why wouldn’t he have given up on the “faking” when Smith came soaring toward his jugular with some size 14s?
3. Would these fans have felt better if he was terribly hurt and couldn’t come back in the game? Like he duped them into thinking his getting-knocked-the-heck-out wasn’t a “standing-o-worthy” injury?
4. If he was faking, why would he risk a 4-on-5 in a crucial point of a crucial game? And then, if he was faking, why wouldn’t he have popped up when he saw Denver got the ball – so the Nuggets could have the advantage on the offensive end after the Smith steal?
Maybe I’m missing something here, but I thought the booing was tacky and distasteful.

I was in the arena last night and from my perspective at the time, it was clear Melo was embellishing an injury (granted I didn’t boo but I definitely THOUGHT about it). Earlier in the game after going to the rim, he laid on the floor for a few seconds while the ball was inbounded, acting like he was hurt. He then got up, barked at the official over a non-call and then went on playing. Chauncey Billups actually wrapped Russell Westbrook up for a foul so that the Nuggets weren’t a man down on defense.

So this time, he bumped into Durant, went down and traveled. It looked like he was pouting over the call at first, laying on his back in disbelief. Melo was down for about 10 seconds, delaying the game starting back up. THAT’S when Thunder fans booed originally. It was at the thought that because he was upset with the call, he just stayed on the floor. It’s not as Hochman writes that fans booed immediately, with Melo hearing the boos as he blacked out. That just didn’t happen. I mean, watch the video. He’s laying there blinking and moving.

Then when Melo stayed down for an extended time, I think fans thought, “Wait, he might actually be hurt.” He got up and walked off to applause. Everyone assumed he had been hurt and I’m sure we all felt terrible about the boos. But then he returned to the floor less than five minutes later ready to play. It was at that point, every fan in the building felt Melo was putting on a little show. And that’s when the booing birds rained down.

You’re telling me he’s knocked unconscious to the point he laid motionless on the floor for 25-30 seconds, and after a quick trot to the locker room, he’s back and ready to play? In this sports world where concussions are the ultimate injury now, some trainer looked at him after being KNOCKED OUT COLD and said, “Ah, you’re alright. Get back in there.” You REALLY think that happened? To me, that’s plain nonsensical.

And the claim he was unconscious is hooey anyway. He had his eyes open the whole time and he was moving. Unless he blacked out in fear from J.R. Smith barreling down on him, he never lost consciousness. As the Basketball Jones guys said today, Melo likely got a stinger and just milked it a bit. When he came out of the locker room, the camera catches him and he’s stretching out his neck. I can buy the fact he stung his shoulder. That makes sense. But I saw the whole thing as a little kid lying about eating the last piece of pie and then to try and save face, just keeping up the lie. Even his own teammates didn’t buy it. I kind of think they would have called a timeout had they really thought Melo’s life were in danger. But instead, they just played on. Reportedly, the refs asked Denver if they wanted a timeout and they declined.

So to me, to accuse OKC fans of being “tacky” is overreacting a bit. In that moment, it seemed pretty obvious what was going on. It went in five stages: 1) He’s hurt 2) He’s pouting 3) He’s faking 4) He’s actually hurt and 5) He was faking because he came back five minutes later. That’s what we thought and at the time, it seemed as clear as night and day. Melo played the entire fourth quarter after being dead for a minute and a half. We just weren’t buying the injury.

I’m not going to pass judgment on Melo and call him a liar or a faker. He may have been hurt. I don’t really know. It’s likely he got his neck stung and went down in a heap. He definitely was NOT unconscious though. That’s clear. But from the perspective of the crowd, it LOOKED like he was pouting/faking. So I think pointing the finger at Thunder fans is pointless. Melo may have very well been hurt. But my point is, the reaction of the crowd is justified.