DENVER — Carmelo Anthony took the stage at an education event and was implored by Denver school kids not to leave them for the bigger stage of the Big Apple.
It's a plea the Denver Nuggets star and his wife, TV personality La La Vazquez, have heard over and over the last few months.
Anthony has yet to sign off on a three-year, $65 million extension that's been on the table since June, leading the Nuggets to explore trade options. Many believe Anthony could end up with the New York Knicks or New Jersey Nets, either by a trade this season or through free agency next summer.
Vazquez insists she's not the driving force behind the rampant speculation that her husband will end up in New York. Vazquez, who married Anthony in a celebrity-filled New York wedding last July, told The Associated Press during an appearance at the public school Friday that she would be happy anywhere Anthony wants to play.
"Wherever he's going to feel comfortable is where I want him to be," she said. "If that's here in Denver, then we are happy to stay here in Denver."
Anthony told the AP he's not ruling out staying in Denver but is keeping his options open.
That despite the many pleas from his adoring fans at the school.
Anthony and Vazquez, along with rapper Ludacris, were on hand to promote the "Get Schooled National Challenge and Tour," a program striving to improve high school graduation rates and college readiness.
"Education's something I'm big on," said Anthony, who acknowledged he wouldn't mind going back and earning his degree after spending one season at Syracuse. "This isn't something someone has to tell me to do or ask me a million times to do. It's something I feel comfortable with."
Anthony was given a robust greeting as he appeared on stage, but then the applause turned into pleas.
"Don't leave, Melo," a student cried.
"We love you, Melo," another called out.
Anthony just smiled as he gave a speech and then answered questions from the students.
None pertaining to his playing days in Denver.
"It's touching, especially when kids are saying it," Anthony said of the appeals to keep him in town. "They know what's going on, they're aware of the good things that I do here in Denver. Not just on the court, but doing stuff like this. It really means a lot."
Vazquez and MTV news correspondent Sway Calloway were the masters of ceremonies for the event, chatting with the children about the importance of education as they built up the frenzy that culminated with the performance of Ludacris.
It was Ludacris' third appearance at an event for the program.
"This is always a rush. I have one of the greatest jobs in the world," said Ludacris, who played the night before in Fort Collins. "Whenever I feel the energy of those loving what I do, it makes my job that much more worth it."
The audience was definitely into his act, erupting at the sight of him on stage. He sang two songs, including his hit "How Low."
Off to the side of the stage, Kiyan, the 3-year-old son of Anthony and Vazquez, danced up a storm while donning a New York Yankees cap.
These days, the rumors involving Anthony's future have been rampant. So much so that the couple has stopped paying attention.
"If I listened to it, we would be living in a different place every day," Vazquez said. "But it comes with the territory. You get used to it. He's here in Denver now and that's what he's focused on – his team and being a leader for his team."
Vazquez said she's not pushing for a possible move to New York or anywhere else. Given her job, she said she could work from anywhere. Vazquez recently filmed a movie with Val Kilmer and 50 Cent in Grand Rapids, Mich.
She's also been jetting back and forth from Denver to Los Angeles.
"I make it work from here," Vazquez said. "Wherever Melo is happy we'll make it work."
Does Anthony want to stay in Denver?
"Yeah. Of course," Anthony said. "Right now, my options are open. That's where I am right now with it."