NEW YORK • As Carmelo Anthony sat on the Oklahoma City bench in Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, waiting for the National Basketball Association (NBA) game against the New York Knicks to begin, the arena went dark.
Anthony's return to the Big Apple for the first time since he was traded to the Thunder in September had been highly anticipated, in part because no one could be quite sure what kind of reception he would get from Knicks fans who watched him score a lot of points over the years without much team success to show for it.
When the pre-game blackout at the Garden suddenly cut away to a video tribute to Anthony, it caught him by surprise.
A nearly minute-long reflection on his high points with the organisation, where he spent nearly seven years, was the Knicks' way of saying thank you, and the crowd produced a chorus of cheers.
Still, there were scattered jeers for a prime-time scorer - seventh in team history - who nonetheless never delivered New York the play-off success the fans hoped for.
Michael Beasley, on the other hand? All cheers.
- Points Carmelo Anthony managed in the second half on his Madison Square Garden return.
He had 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the field to lead six Knicks in double figures as New York spoilt Anthony's return with a 111-96 win over the Thunder.
Anthony finished with just 12 points - including zero in the second half - on five-of-18 shooting.
He has also now scored fewer than 20 points for the ninth time in 11 games.
"The video montage caught me by surprise," Anthony said.
"I wasn't expecting it. I was waiting for my name to be called. First and foremost, I want to thank (Knicks executives) Scott Perry and Steve Mills for making the gesture. That goes a long way."
When the crowd was not raining love on Anthony, they were giving Beasley his due.
With Latvian Kristaps Porzingis sidelined with left-knee soreness, Beasley carried the heavy scoring load for the Knicks.
"Mike has been fantastic," Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said after New York (16-13) won for the fourth straight game and fifth time in six games.
Russell Westbrook had 25 points to lead the Thunder (14-15), who were outscored 31-23 in the fourth quarter. Paul George added 18 points for them.
For the Knicks, it may have been particularly electrifying when they seized control late in the third quarter to take a seven-point lead into the final moments of the game.
For Anthony, it was even more.
"I'm somebody who wanted to be here, came here, did what he had to do night in and night out, stuck with it through good times and bad times," he said.
"I was trying to be professional during my seven years, and I had hopes and dreams of winning a championship here. I have always been a part of this culture.
"Playing with the Knicks is deeper than basketball when it comes to me and this city."