by Franklyn Calle
The stage was set this weekend for NBA Superstar Carmelo Anthony’s lone visit to Madison Square Garden this season — as a member of the Denver Nuggets at least.
In the midst of all the trade rumors and free agency speculation, which includes talks about him wanting to play for the New York Knicks, the 6-8 forward arrived at the Big Apple early Saturday after a Friday night game against the Raptors in Toronto. On Saturday afternoon, the Nuggets held a team practice at the Reebok Sports Club in the Upper West Side. At the conclusion of practice, Jordan Brand gave SLAM a special opportunity to talk with Melo for about five minutes.
Being that Anthony had to be in Harlem about an hour later, the three-time All-Star was only able to talk for a short while. We talked about his new kicks, the Jordan Melo M7, which he was looking forward to celebrating the launch of at Foot Locker’s House of Hoops uptown later in the day. His seventh sneaker with Jordan Brand, it’s available in stores right now. The word around town is that the M7 is the most lightweight shoe Anthony has ever worn. Some of the new technological advances that it features, according to the Jordan Brand, include full-length Phylon Midsole for lightweight cushion and support, a mesh tongue that enhances breathability, reinforced structure that increases durability, internal heel pad which add cushioning, comfort and extra lockdown support, and deep flex grooves that help improve flexibility and maneuverability, among others. As for the design aspect of things, there are a few hidden add-ons by Melo that he spoke of and you’ll read later on.
And then, obviously, I threw in a few free agency/trade talk questions and attempted to get him to speak on where he stood on the whole situation. I’ve now had the opportunity to speak with Melo on a couple of occasions, and, like anyone else that has spoken with him will tell you, he is as down to earth as you’ll find. Even with the questions, he always has a smooth way to say the right things. Let’s just say he always has the right answer. Melo is one of the most well-liked players in the League, and I truly hope that it stays that way after he makes his decision of where to continue his career. Many fans forget that when it’s all said and done this is business, nothing personal.
The afternoon after we spoke, Melo scored a game-high 31 points in a 129-125 loss to the Knicks. He received a huge ovation from the home crowd during the player introductions. But what has emerged from that game came after the final buzzer. Word has spread and reports have surfaced the airs that Anthony will only sign the three-year, $65 million-extension if he is traded to the Knickerbockers. But at this point there are more questions than answers.
SLAM: What are some of the highlights of your new sneakers the M7?
Carmelo Anthony: This is my lightest shoe that I’ve been a part of that I’ve designed. By far this is the lightest out of all seven. We went with a different material with the foamposite. I wanted to use a different material than normal with the patent leather. And then something that I wanted to try out was the zoom air bag. That helps me stabilize on quick moves from left to right and give that quick bounce, and still be able to come down and still have that cushion and support that I need for my foot. Like, what I try to do is when I design a shoe is I try to get a lot of different type of people’s input. From little kids to women and older men, and just see what they feel and everybody came back to me and said the same thing. That it’s light. It’s comfortable. It feels good when you put it on. It don’t even feel like a basketball shoe. That was some great feedback.
SLAM: So what’s the whole lightweight thing?
CA: Yeah it’s light. I try to go as light as I can with the material that we use with the patent leather and foamposite, and still be comfortable at the same time for my foot. The way I play up-and-down and the versatility that I have in my game, I just wanted something that can lock my foot down when I’m moving.
SLAM: What are some of the personalize touches in this one?
CA: On the right foot I have my signature. You know, like my autograph in the back. And then on the left shoe is my logo on the back. And then, of course, we did the tongue differently this year. We tried something different with the tongue this year. We got a pull tongue. The bottom of the sole, the tracks and design, is Melo. So you know, that’s something different with a couple of things we did with this one. I kind of ran out of personalize stuff to put on this shoe so I just kind of left it alone. But the next one, I’m gonna put a lot more into it as far a personalize stuff.
SLAM: Moving forward to your next shoe without giving away too much, is lightweight something you want to continue to emphasize on?
CA: As far as the weight, we’ll try to go lighter than this one and still use a durable material. I try to go as light as I can.
SLAM: Any future special edition kicks, whether it be colorways, that fans could look forward to in the future?
CA: Well, we have this one, of course this is the traditional one: the Carolina blue and white. Then we have an all black and silver one. Then we have two special colorways coming out. Two colors that we never did before. I think one of them they snuck it out on us and they put it out. It’s all red patent leather with a black sole. Then we have another color way coming out too that I never did before but once I saw it with that material, a lot of people said it looked like somebody else’s from way back. And its that same colors, that same materials, that same feel, you know, that had everybody when I was growing up in that old school kicks.
SLAM: What were your favorite kicks growing up?
CA: My favorite shoe has always been the Jordan two, and then the eleven. Those have always been my favorite Jordans. And I’ve always liked the old air max, the old Barkleys, the Pat Ewings. It was kind of easy for me to receive Jordan because we were sponsored by Jordan in high school [Oak Hill]. But even before that, growing up when I was in the early teens, I liked the Scotty Pippens, the Air Max Uptempos, all the Penny Hardaways. Those were all my favorites.
SLAM: With all the trade rumors that involve you and the New York Knicks, how much of that is in your mind coming into MSG?
CA: It’s not at all. I don’t even think about that at all. When I’m out there playing I don’t even think about that.
SLAM: But mentally there aren’t any bigger than usual emotions for such a game? Also being that you are from New York City?
CA: I don’t really take it emotionally. The game becomes more fun. More exciting. I have a lot of family, a lot friends, a lot of people here, so if I don’t perform or if we don’t win, then I get the phone calls and the jokes, so I try to avoid that by doing what I gotta do.
SLAM: What do you expect from Knicks fans?
CA: (Pauses) I don’t know, man. We’ll see tomorrow how the fans react.
SLAM: How do you feel the Nuggets have performed so far this season?
CA: We alright. We went on a little seven-game winning streak. Then we dropped two and won last night in Toronto. So only 22 games into the season but as of right now we doing the best that we can with the guys that we have.
SLAM: Do you feel like you will ultimately end up as a free agent next summer?
CA: Anything can happen. I won’t be becoming a free agent till the summer so anything that is going on right now, I’m still under contract with the Denver Nuggets. So until the summer, if I decide to wait to sign or don’t sign, that’s when I’ll become a free agent.
SLAM: How has the city of Denver and the fan base over there reacted to all the speculation regarding whether or not you’ll stay?
CA: I think as far as the speculation and people on the edge of their seat about what I’m going to do and where I’m going to go, that can be a little overwhelming at times. But I gotta give myself credit because I’ve been doing a great job with staying focused.
SLAM: Do fans in Denver stop you and try to talk you into staying?
CA: Yeah, man. It actually happens in every city. Sometimes its kinda embarrassing because I can be with my teammates too and they will be like ‘Come here man!’
SLAM: How do you respond to such statements?
CA: (Pauses) I don’t know, man. Sometimes I don’t even respond and just keep on moving. I’ve been hearing it all the time in cities.
SLAM: Have you heard anything from New York Fans so far?
CA: I haven’t gone anywhere because we got in late last night. I haven’t heard it yet.
SLAM: So are you going anywhere tonight or rather stay in?
CA: I ain’t going nowhere tonight. (Laughs.)
SLAM: Wherever you end up, being that you aren’t from Denver as say LeBron was from Ohio, do you feel like there’s a difference as far as consciousness and emotions playing into your decision?
CA: I think anytime you’ve spent the amount of time that I’ve spent in a city, I’ve been there seven or eight years, that place becomes your home. It’s hard when you’re dealing with a situation like that. Even with LeBron, he’s from there, he’s from Ohio so it was more than just leaving. It was more of a emotional thing.
SLAM: Ever wonder what would it have been like if that reported trade with the Nets would have gone through earlier this season? You could have probably eventually ended up in Brooklyn, your birthplace.
CA: I never really thought about it. That situation is not going to happen until about three more years so you know.
And just when I was thinking about asking how he feels about Amar’e Stoudemire, and how he would mesh up in the frontcourt if that was to ever happen, my time was up. My gut feeling tells me I’ll get a chance to see that duo sometime after the February Trade Deadline.
For more info on the M7 and its different colorways, the Nike site got you covered.