By Ryan McNeill
While cleaning my condo this week I came across a Dime Magazine from last August with Carmelo Anthony on the cover with his fists up ready for a fight. After the scrap that happened earlier this month at Madison Square Garden curiosity got the best of me so I quickly flipped through the article.
While reading through the article by Patrick Cassidy one section that stuck out is when he wrote that “there’s something about Carmelo Anthony that seems to connect with people. Maybe it’s because of the way he plays fearless, smooth in spurts, but smash mouth when it’s called for. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t look like he’s been hewn from stone: he has to work hard at staying in shape. He’s not seven-feet tall and he’s not a genetic anomaly like LeBron James: ‘Melo has a tinge of every man to him. Maybe it’s the fact he isn’t perfect, that he’s fallible and he has endured the slings and arrows because he does come across as a normal human. Someone spits in your girl’s face, like what happened when Carmelo popped that dude in the bar in 2004? Can’t we all see ourselves reacting like that?”
I couldn’t agree more with Cassidy about peoples attraction to ‘Melo being attributed to the fact that he’s fallible. After receiving some negative press numerous professional athletes have seen their endorsements deals shrivel up quicker than a man suffering from “shrinkage.” Players like Kobe Bryant and Stephen Jackson have had some problems off the court and their marketability hasn’t returned to anywhere close to the same levels as they were prior to their issues. Between arguing with Larry Brown over minutes during the last Olympics, being part of a gang related video called “Stop Snitchin’” and his involvement in the brawl at Madison Square Garden earlier this month you would think that his rep would be in shambles. Instead, these events have helped to create a street cred for ‘Melo that is unrivalled by any of his peers in the NBA.
‘Melo’s street cred was illustrated perfectly in the Dime article when Cassidy wrote, “we saw ‘Melo’s appeal first hand when we moved out photo shoot for this issue from the sidewalks of Manhatten’s Lower East Side. Within minutes, it looked like a full-on block party had broken out. The street flooded with men, woman, and children gathered around Carmelo, snapping pics of him with their digital cameras while he was being shot for Dime. Construction workers on their way home from work yelled to ‘Melo from the back of their truck while kids gathered for closer looks. Men and woman hung out of apartment windows and one woman made a point of letting Carmelo know that she thought he was one ‘big ol’ adorable bundle of joy.’”
A huge part of the reason why ‘Melo fascinates me is due to the fact that he has made mistakes and he doesn’t try to stand on the traditional podium that we place our favourite athletes. His image is a little grimy and because of that I feel I can relate to him more than I can that of the clean-cut image of a player like Dwyane Wade.
While the 2003 NBA Draft has cultivated countless marketable stars in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Kirk Hinrich, I think the player that will have the biggest impact on and off the court will be ‘Melo due to heart for people in need within his community, his insatiable desire to win games and the innate ability he possesses to build street cred through making PR mistakes that would doom the marketability of his peers.