Thursday, May 23, 2024


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 at all times 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 numerous methods, as we’ve documented their careers with traditional covers, legendary pictures, wonderful tales, compelling movies and extra. 

We compiled a gaggle of people (programming word: 30 entries, not 30 folks complete) who imply one thing particular to SLAM and to our viewers. Learn the full checklist right here and order your copy of SLAM 248, the place this checklist was initially printed, right 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 couple of 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 have been finally dispatched by larger competitors. However I feel as time goes on, we are going to keep 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 in peril of being overshadowed. However he shined his personal mild and carved his personal path, which took severe work on and off the courtroom. On the morning of the 2003 Draft, I sat all the way down to breakfast with Carmelo, proper there within the foyer of the Westin Lodge in Occasions Sq. the place the NBA housed the gamers. His brokers wished us to fulfill upfront of Melo taking up the SLAM Rookie Diary, which I’d 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 largest second of his life. I principally simply tried to remain out of his approach that day. 

However we have been in fixed contact all through his rookie 12 months—shout out tmail, IYKYK—and it was exceptional to see Melo acquire confidence and begin to develop into himself. He matured, turned a father, had his personal line of Jordans, and was beginning to dabble in documentary manufacturing. On the time, you’ll keep 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 have been feeling out related strains of inquiry concerning what their enterprise futures may 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 quilt 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 powerful for the Nuggets to interrupt by—issues have 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 concept: He wished to be on the quilt seated in a director’s chair. Nope, I shortly responded. As a result of if there was one factor the nice Dennis Web page taught all of us at SLAM, it was how one can make a dope journal cowl. It was onerous 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 by utilizing 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 quilt 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 progress, and Melo famous, “It took me some time to determine that I had every part in my very own fingers. It was onerous to fathom that I went from a row home challenge constructing to a penthouse. It’s nonetheless onerous to fathom that.”

Melo’s basketball story might have come to a sleek finish, however he’s clearly not completed. He guest-edited SLAM’s Social Justice problem in 2020, addressing head-on most of the social points in America then and now. The previous couple of years, he’s performed every part from proudly owning a soccer group to performing on TV and in films to launching a podcast to being profiled in Advert Week. And it don’t cease. 

Folks typically ask me who my favourite NBA gamers are, and the reality is, I don’t have favourite gamers a lot as I’ve favourite folks. Whereas Carmelo Anthony will go down as a Corridor of Fame basketball participant, possibly the higher story is how he’s additionally grown right into a Corridor of Fame individual. 

Picture by way of Getty Photographs.

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