‘Melo’s Street Cred

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.

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7 thoughts on “‘Melo’s Street Cred

  1. great post, ryan. i think the ali comparison is spot on. and i tell you: pairing up melo and iverson was pure genius. AI is the quintessential post-MJ nba baller who oozes street cred and ‘heart’. Melo’s sort of a 21st century Iverson-meets-Ali behemoth. Pair them up and suddenly the Nuggs are the hippest team in the league. I for one hope they succeed.

    Sure, Melo ain’t no Iverson. He ain’t no Ali either. But he’s making impressive strides and is far from having the same overly contrived, PR-friendly, bland image that plagues the likes of Dwyane Wade and LeBron. Thank god. Those guys could kill all that’s great about sports. LeBron might as well be the dullest “greatest player ever”. that’s why I suppose we gotta respect the kobe bryants of this world, the shaqs and even the artests. they can turn a good game into an epic rivalry, adding so many layers of drama and tension that it’s unbelievable.

  2. Ryan,

    I love the Iverson/Melo pairing, but you might be a little too far ahead of the curve on the Ali stuff. Melo does show some personality and appeal and I think the stop snitching thing was overplayed and I like that he’s not superhuman like Lebron. As far as the punch though, I’m with your fellow Canadian Steve Nash, “Typical NBA punch. In hockey, your own team would beat you up for that.”

  3. thanks for the support Pedro! Like you I can’t wait to see AI and Melo on the court at the same time. If Early Boykins can average close to 30 points a game feeding off the double teams that Iverson requires I can’t wait to see the damage that Melo and AI can do when teams can’t double team either of these guys.

    Bill: I’m learning towards Pedro’s sentiments that I’d prefer Melos personality over LeBron’s physical gifts. While LeBron is the better athlete I’m more of a fan of Melo at this stage of their careers. If LeBron can start winning Championships over Melo I would be swayed but until either of these guys cross that line I’m in Melo’s corner.

    I hadn’t read Nash’s response – thanks! It gave me a good chuckle.

  4. Both have thrown punches in madison square garden, and that’s where most of the similarities stop. Though the new nike commerical is good and that article portrays him in a positive light, Carmelo is not the prominenet figure that ali was and not even close to as dominant in his sport. Ali, it’s said by many including himself, was the greatest boxer of all time. Carmelo when he comes back won’t even be the best player on his own team.

    I really look forward to watching the nuggets when carmelo comes back, but watch a documentary about ali or read a book about him. Carmelo isn’t Ali, and isn’t even close. While I really like your blog, this post is comparable to a music blog saying “fred durst is the bob dylan of our time!”

  5. Mathias: I think that their social influential is much greater than just throwing some punches at MSG. The way that teens and pre-teens respect Melo is huge. However, I agree that saying that generation at this point respects an athlete isn’t going to give that athlete instant credibility with my generation or older ones.

    While reading through the article on Melo I just found a couple points that had me comparing the two athletes. However, I do agree that it’s hard to judge any athlete after 5 years in the public conscious to an athlete like Ali that we’ve followed for over 30. I should have worded things better so that it would have been more clear that once Melo retires that we’ll look back on his career much like we did Ali.

    Ouch! Fred Durst? You could have at least compared me to Aaron Lewis.

  6. This was the most pathetic justification for being a thug I ever read.
    I have to add coward to that since that suckerpunch and backpedalling is all people will remember him by. Sort of like Marty McSorley and the stick incident.
    Hitting someone who is not looking is the ultimate act of cowardice (right after shooting an unarmed person) but backpedaling right after is the cherry on the sundae.

    I was waiting for the sarcasm tab to appear but you did it straight.
    Muhammad Ali?
    Jordan?
    Really?

    Reading this reminds me of my pre-teen nieces who see Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton on ET and magazines and BELIEVE a fabricated image that was built by million dollars worth of advertising.
    Ahh, the naivete of 11 year olds.

    Whats your excuse?

    PS: First article read here and Im not even gonna bother with the rest.
    Could be that this was just a writing exercice or too much poppers that night but it was like reading a puff piece in some glossy mag.
    No thanks.

  7. After talking with David Wilson and reading the feedback on this column it’s clear that trying to compare ‘Melo to MJ and Ali was too big of a stretch. I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong and it’s become clear to me that this is a time when I’ve got things twisted up.

    I’ve sat down and changed some things around a bit as I feel that Cassidy’s comments on Melo are great and provide a great perspective on an athelte that the media is ripping on. Hope that you all enjoy the changes.

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