Originally published in SLAM 132
The 6th Man: Funny, isn’t it? Appear on “street” DVDs, feud with your coach, let weed be found in your car or get a 15-game suspension for taking part in a “brawl” the commissioner of Major League Baseball would laugh at, and you’re all over the news. Carmelo Anthony did all those things, and as a result, his name stayed on the tip of everyone’s tongue: TV features, magazine covers (SLAM included, we’ve never shied away from “controversial” subjects), etc. Seemed like the more Melo did wrong, the more hype he got.
Then, as he grew up and started focusing on his family and his game—to excellent results—he started to fade from the public consciousness. Think about the last year and a half of his career: led the Nuggets to 50 wins while Allen Iverson got more attention; played a crucial role in the US winning the Gold Medal in Beijing but was entirely overshadowed by Kobe, LeBron and the reborn Dwyane Wade. Then, last season, Carmelo overcame injury to post an efficient nightly line of 22.8/6.8/3.4, leading the Nuggets in scoring while the team won a franchise record-tying 54 games, and the national narrative was that Chanucey Billups had carried the team. Sure, Chauncey’s great, but it was yet another example of the new Melo—a better teammate, a maturing adult—seemingly being overlooked for doing the right thing.
When it came time to choose this month’s cover, believe me, my first inclination was to go right along with that thinking. Carmelo? What’s going on with him? But, steered by Lang and Melo’s own camp, I realized that a long-time SLAM favorite had gone from overexposed to underexposed. In the process of setting up the shoot and interview, and seeing and reading the results (Paul Aresu’s pics are as crisp as ever, and Lang got the best q+a out of Melo that I’ve ever read), this went from a cover story I was nervous about to one I couldn’t feel better about. Check it all out yourself beginning on pg. 54—something tells me you’re going to feel the same way.