One On One – A Conversation With Carmelo Anthony

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Carmelo Anthony is used to stardom. A heralded high school baller from Baltimore, Anthony spent his first three years at Towson Catholic High School before transferring to Oak Hill Academy for a stellar senior year that catapulted him from local star to USA Today first team All-American. A year later, Anthony led the Syracuse Orangemen to the NCAA National Championship and took center stage as a fearless scorer with a mammoth swagger. Anthony diced up defenses with a youthful cockiness punctuated by a smirk, corn-rowed braids, tattoos, and baggy shorts. After the championship, Anthony hoisted the trophy with a doo-rag and a backwards National Championship hat spun to the side. Carmelo Anthony, before even suiting up for an NBA squad, was already a star.

“Melo was selected third in the NBA draft in 2003, with LeBron James and Darko Miličić selected ahead, and the Denver Nuggets couldn’t have been happier, as they landed a proven scorer with big shot poise. After making a splash in the NBA and giving LeBron a run for his money in the Rookie of the Year voting, Anthony seemed up to the pressure and speed of the NBA. Nike wasted no time getting Carmelo to join their brand. Besides landing a huge contract, “Melo was one of a select few on the Nike basketball roster to receive a signature sneaker. His first release, The Air Jordan Melo 1.5, fused elements from the Air Jordan I and Air Jordan II with some touches that Anthony himself suggested. Last year, a new, long-term contract ensured that unique “Melo releases will continue for a long time.

In 2004, Anthony joined the bronze-medal winning USA Olympic Basketball team, and in 2006, he starred on the FIBA International team, as he set the single-game scoring record with 35 points against Italy. As an integral part of the 2008 “Redeem Team,” Anthony again thrived on the international stage in Beijing. 2008 was also a landmark NBA season for Carmelo, as he led the Nuggets to the conference finals, only to lose to the eventual-champion Lakers. Now Carmelo seems poised to again lead his team deep into the playoffs, and if he has his way, take home the Naismith trophy.

Anthony breaks ankles, swats shots, and nets three-pointers regularly during the season, but he, like today’s other superstar athletes, does much more than perform on the court or field. Anthony now enjoys a career that’s more than points and rebounds as the founder of Kross Over Entertainment—home to artists like Cassidy and Diego Cash. Melo told us in his interview with Freshness that he prefers to stay “behind he scenes,” rather than get behind the mic or mixing boards. His media endeavors don’t stop with music, as Melo was among the producers of the critically-acclaimed documentary Tyson that released this year.

Carmelo has endured his media bumps and bruises as well. Early in his career, mishaps tarnished his image, but it seems that he has recovered well—as evidenced by his numerous endorsements and media ventures. To top all of his successes off, Carmelo also just had his first son, Kiyan. Freshness got a few minutes with Carmelo Anthony to discuss his accomplishments on and off the court, his goals, his style, and even his relationship with Jordan himself.

> An Interview with Carmelo Anthony

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You’ve accomplished a great deal at such a young age. You won a national championship in your freshman year at Syracuse, you were picked third in the draft (behind LeBron and the legendary flop Darko Milicic), brought your team from worst to first, and won a gold medal. What are your three main professional goals?

First and foremost, my main goal is to a championship.  And my second goal, is to win another one (laughs).  Really though, my three main professional goals are all the same to win a championship.

I saw a video of you on YouTube in a shooting contest with MJ at a camp.  How much interaction do you have with Jordan himself?

I have a lot of interaction with him.  We talk over text a lot.  Whenever I see him, we sit down and talk.  Sometimes we talk about business, sometimes we talk about sports, other times we talk about whatever’s going on in the world at the moment.

I saw in an interview from 2008 where you said that you liked to match your hat, shirt, jeans, and sneakers. Do you still have the same style? It seems like your photos lately show you in a much more refined light.

Ya, I still do that.  I still dress like that a lot.  It all depends on the occasion, though.  I have incorporated some different things into my wardrobe, too.  My style has definitely become more refined.

Off the court, it seems like you’ve been a busy man lately. Tell us a bit about Krossover Entertainment. Who are your main recording artists? What are your main roles in dealing with the record label?

Well, my label has been around for 2-3 years and we’re about to make a big impact.  We’ll probably release some stuff next month.  I have three main artists on the label (hip hop artists Cassidy and Diego Cash and R&B/pop artist Midian).  When it comes to music and my record label, I’m a behind-the-scenes guy.  I’m not trying to be in front of the camera as an artist or anything.  My main role is to help make it successful and help run the business side of things.

Some of our readers may be surprised to know of your involvement in the documentary film Tyson that was released this year. Tell us about some of the challenges and rewards in getting involved with the project.

It was rewarding for me to have the chance to be involved in this project, to learn more about Mike Tyson and his life outside of what I had read in the newspapers or seen on TV.  For me to hear from him firsthand all the things that he has been through in his life the highs and the lows was something that not many people get an opportunity to experience.  I was blessed to be able to jump into the movie industry with the Tyson documentary and I think that has really opened up a lot of doors for me and production company, Krossover Productions.

How does being on the gold-medal-winning USA Basketball team change the way you compete against, say, LeBron or D-Wade during the season? Is it hard to switch from being teammates to competitors or vice versa during the Olympic and NBA seasons?

Well, we will always have that competitive nature in us.  There is always going to be a battle amongst all of us.  But we’re friends off the court, so I would never use the word enemies, but we are very competitive on the court.   It’s not hard to switch from being teammates to competitors, though, because we’ve been doing it for so long, it’s kind of second nature to us.  It’s part of the game of basketball.

What can we expect to see from the Nuggets to top their most successful season in team history?

To win our division again, to get back to the playoffs and to win a championship.

Talk about a few of the changes since Billups has joined the team.

Having Chauncey on our team changed everything – from the style of play, to the tempo of the game.  It helped everybody out.

Congratulations on the birth of your son, Kiyan. How has being a father changed your life both on and off the court?

Having a son has brought a whole new meaning to my life.  It has made me slow everything down and has put everything that I do into  a new perspective.

*Images: Courtesy of the Denver Nuggets