Can anyone say U.S. Senator Carmelo Anthony ?
If the NBA All-Star turned leader of the CPM (Conscious Player's Movement) continues his pledged focus on social interests with the same fervor that he has in the past year, then he might be one day.
There’s no doubt, he’s laying the groundwork.
Melo proved he was a special player when he led Syracuse University to its first NCAA title as a freshman back in 2003. His NBA career has been littered with All-Star appearances, a truck-load of scoring and dynamic execution and Olympic glory.
Coming to New York awarded him a celebrity status that only a few athletes in the world enjoy. However, the way his career has played out, with no championships to date and no talent surrounding him, other players have taken the spotlight from a guy who was used to having it.
In fact, these past few injury-riddled seasons were the beginning of rumblings that he was no longer a Top 10 player.
When Melo took that crazy wad of cash and re-signed with the Knicks, everyone knew it was a business deal. His family is comfortable here. He has roots in the town, as he was born in Brooklyn before moving to B-More.
People blasted him for not leaving the down-trodden Knicks. He could have joined a contender like Kevin Durant. I think, at a certain point, Melo decided and accepted the fact that he would never be considered the game’s “best” player and there’s a good chance that he will finish his brilliant NBA career without a championship.
He sought another way to be “the man.” He’s decided to seize the moment of police-civilian turmoil in this country and put himself front and center as a superstar athlete who cares for the community, speaks out against injustices and rallies his fellow athletes to forget about the zeroes and start being heroes for the future of this country.
He spoke out against the vicious murders of unarmed black men by police and begged for peace and dialogue when cops were retaliated against. He blasted the WNBA for fining players for expressing their beliefs and his opinion surely helped get those fines rescinded. He's the new go-to guy in sports on race and class issues.
Anthony’s social activism in the recent months has separated him and elevated his stature above that of his play-making peers for the first time in his NBA career.
(Photo Credit: diversityinc.com)
It’s clear that Melo is an enlightened and fearless guy who is as much a team player as anyone in the game of life. The way he’s negatively characterized on the basketball court by media and some fans is already a part of his NBA legacy, but as he enters the downside of his career, Melo has found his calling.
He thought it was to put baskets in a bucket. But then, he grew up and was so moved by the tension of the times, that a switch flipped and he stopped worrying about being king of the court and is focused on instituting significant social change.
His ability to influence the game’s most distinguished and celebrated money-makers to join him in these causes finally gives his career the stamp of legitimacy and leadership (that heir of greatness if you will) that it had been lacking.
He’s represents the unified pulse of the NBA and he’s accomplished something that Isiah Thomas and Magic Johnson couldn’t do when they sat down with a young MJ, hipped him to the game and what they could all accomplish as far as player empowerment and social change as one unified front. According to Isaiah, MJ wasn’t trying to hear it and the rest is American capitalism in all its glory.
However, all these years later, Melo is the baller whose name is associated with Jordan’s first public opinions on the controversial topics of race, law enforcement and the African-American community.
Jordan broke his silence on police violence on Monday and announced two $1 million grants to civil rights group NAACP's Legal Defense Fund and to a group that works on improving police relations with communities.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
"I can no longer stay silent," wrote Jordan.
The former Chicago Bulls star, known for his calculated silence on addressing issues of race, wrote that he felt the pain of violence and referenced the 1993 slaying of his father, James Jordan, along a North Carolina road.
“I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers,” he admitted.
While the sports world heaped praise on the ultimate icon, for finally spitting some real game, Melo stated that it's "about time that he stepped up and said what he said."
We are witnessing the birth of an American hero. He’s not chilling in front of the state Capital with a crew of black guys in black jackets with licensed assault rifles in plain view, but he’s vocal and he’s not just tweeting smoke.
On the same day that MJ officially joined the “new” Civil Rights Movement, Anthony brought all members of the United States men’s and women’s basketball Olympic teams together for a discussion with community leaders and local children and young adults addressing the proliferation of killings committed by and against cops.
(Photo Credit: blacksportsonline.com)
“We have to start it by talking about it, being honest with each other, not just pointing the finger at the officers, or the officers pointing the fingers at us," Melo said.
That championship balance and chemistry that he could never find on an NBA court is evident in his new role as celebrity social activist.
“I think we created something today that will continue on,” Anthony said.
The event, which was held at the Challengers Boys & Girls Club, included more than 200 people: young people from the community ages 13 to 23, local leaders, police officers and players from the men’s and women’s national basketball teams.
After an open forum, the participants broke into groups for smaller discussions about topics that centered on the police and race relations. The event lasted about two hours.
Melo said that the police were surprised at some of his stories concerning confrontations with law enforcement and claimed that growing up in Baltimore, “the kids didn’t trust them (the cops).”
“Some of the things that I heard, it brought a perspective that I didn’t realize,” Deputy Chief William Scott of the Los Angeles Police Department said. “So it was a very powerful thing for me and apparently for everyone in my group. It gave us that space to have that dialogue necessary to drive change.”
Can anyone say U.S. Senator Carmelo Anthony?