Syracuse, New York
On Friday, October 17, a crowd of nearly 20,000 packed the Carrier Dome to cheer the likes of Anthony, Iverson, Shaquille O'Neill, and other stars like Steve Nash and Amari Stoudemire who did not play, but who seemed to enjoy the Loud House. The Denver Nuggets beat the Phoenix Suns 94-91, but the real winner was Carmelo.
I've watched Carmelo Anthony's career develop since his 2002-20003 playing year at Syracuse University where he delivered on his promise that the men's basketball team would emerge the national champions. Having delivered to SU coach Jim Boeheim, Melo immediately announced he was jumping to the NBA and was the No. 3 overall pick.
Today Melo is one of the Denver Nuggets marquee players along with 76ers transfer Alan Iverson. Both pro ballers have had their share of trouble off the court, with Melo most recently getting pulled over for driving while impaired in April. But both remain men of influence with a variety of people from all walks of life, from those who simply love the ueber-talented who play professional basketball, to young people like those SU students shouting "We want Melo," who appreciate the ever-smiling young man who delivered his promise returning triumphant to the Dome.
Still only 24, Carmelo Anthony makes no secret that he is hungry for the fame associated with that of Michael Jordan and LeBron James. It's not talent alone that propels one to that next level. It's a drive to become a household name and brand that has positive associations. Those positive associations include managing one's wealth well, keeping one's name in the paper for the right reasons, and building on a bricks and mortar as well as a reputational foundation that mentors youth and gives back to the community. A good example for Anthony is his friend, LeBron James, with whom he played Olympic basketball. One of James' confidants is none other than billionaire and basketball-loving Warren Buffet, who has helped to mentor James. James has developed an image of excellence and business acumen beyond his eye-popping talent on the basketball court.
Anthony is positioned now to take his game and his reputation to the next level. He played four years with Team USA men's basketball and this past August in Beijing helped the men's team bring back Olympic Gold to the United States after a bronze medal performance in Athens.
The Beijing gold medal means as much to Anthony, if not more, than his NCAA championship for SU basketball. It signifies that he's carving a path toward international prominence. He contributed $3 million to the new Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center that is under construction on the Syracuse University campus. He just received an accolade from Hispanic Business magazine as one of the hundred most influential Hispanics in 2008. Anthony's Puerto Rican father died of cancer when Carmelo was two. Anthony is the father of a 19-month old boy, Kiyan Carmelo Anthony, which should make him think more about his place in the world.
Though no longer the boyish teenager who cut down the nets in 2003, today's Carmelo Anthony maintains the youthful charm and friendliness to make it to the next level of greatness. He has hired several PR and marketing firms to help him, but they can only do so much. The path to greatest prominence rests with Anthony alone and I look forward to watching this Orangeman propel his reputation forward.