For 3 a long time we’ve lined many wonderful basketball characters, however some stand above the remaining—not solely due to their on-court abilities (although these are all the time related), however due to how they influenced and proceed to affect basketball tradition, and thus influenced SLAM. In the meantime, SLAM has additionally modified these gamers’ lives in varied methods, as we’ve documented their careers with basic covers, legendary photographs, wonderful tales, compelling movies and extra.
We compiled a bunch of people (programming notice: 30 entries, not 30 individuals whole) who imply one thing particular to SLAM and to our viewers. Learn the full list here and order your copy of SLAM 248, the place this checklist was initially revealed, here.
Carmelo Anthony formally retired from the NBA in Could 2023, after racking up 28,289 factors, making six All-NBA groups and successful three Olympic Gold medals. Whereas he spent his previous few seasons barnstorming across the League, he’ll be remembered for his tenures with the Nuggets and Knicks, the place he headlined some nice groups that had been finally dispatched by higher competitors. However I believe as time goes on, we’ll bear in mind Melo for extra than simply basketball.
Melo was in the identical 2003 NBA Draft class as LeBron James, which might put most gamers at risk of being overshadowed. However he shined his personal gentle and carved his personal path, which took critical work on and off the courtroom. On the morning of the 2003 Draft, I sat right down to breakfast with Carmelo, proper there within the foyer of the Westin Resort in Occasions Sq. the place the NBA housed the gamers. His brokers wished us to fulfill prematurely of Melo taking on the SLAM Rookie Diary, which I might assist him write every month. We shared an ungainly meal collectively, Melo simply weeks faraway from successful the NCAA Match with Syracuse, and simply hours away from the most important second of his life. I principally simply tried to remain out of his approach that day.
However we had been in fixed contact all through his rookie 12 months—shout out tmail, IYKYK—and it was outstanding to see Melo achieve confidence and begin to develop into himself. He matured, grew to become a father, had his personal line of Jordans, and was beginning to dabble in documentary manufacturing. On the time, you’ll bear in mind, there was no actual blueprint for an athlete trying to diversify their off-court pursuits. Michael Jordan was nonetheless constructing out Jordan Model and but to buy the Hornets, and Carmelo and LeBron had been feeling out related traces of inquiry concerning what their enterprise futures would possibly appear to be.
In the summertime of 2008, we reached out to Carmelo as a result of it was time to place him on the duvet of SLAM, his fourth cowl for the reason that 2003 Draft. Melo was getting into his sixth season, having averaged 24.4 ppg over these first 5 campaigns (all successful seasons), together with two All-Star appearances. Nonetheless, it was robust for the Nuggets to interrupt by means of—issues had been so stacked that the 2007-08 Nuggets gained 50 video games and nonetheless completed eighth within the Western Convention.
Down to present us time for a canopy shoot, Melo wished to pitch us an thought: He wished to be on the duvet seated in a director’s chair. Nope, I rapidly responded. As a result of if there was one factor the nice Dennis Web page taught all of us at SLAM, it was the best way to make a dope journal cowl. It was arduous sufficient to do one thing compelling in that rectangular form, and having somebody sitting down actually restricted your choices from a design standpoint. However Melo had legitimately thought it out. His life was altering. He felt like he was in management. He wished to make use of one story to inform one other story, and the way higher than through the use of a photograph with him in a director’s chair?
A compromise was reached. We’d get a director’s chair and take photos with Carmelo in it, however for the duvet picture, we’d use no matter labored finest. Because it turned out, the director’s chair labored finest, turning into one of many extra memorable SLAM covers of all time.
We talked that day about his development, and Melo famous, “It took me some time to determine that I had every little thing in my very own fingers. It was arduous to fathom that I went from a row home undertaking constructing to a penthouse. It’s nonetheless arduous to fathom that.”
Melo’s basketball story might have come to a swish finish, however he’s clearly not completed. He guest-edited SLAM’s Social Justice issue in 2020, addressing head-on most of the social points in America then and now. The previous couple of years, he’s carried out every little thing from proudly owning a soccer group to performing on TV and in motion pictures to launching a podcast to being profiled in Advert Week. And it don’t cease.
Folks usually ask me who my favourite NBA gamers are, and the reality is, I don’t have favourite gamers a lot as I’ve favourite individuals. Whereas Carmelo Anthony will go down as a Corridor of Fame basketball participant, perhaps the higher story is how he’s additionally grown right into a Corridor of Fame particular person.
Photograph by way of Getty Photographs.