Like so many professional athletes, Carmelo Anthony is often reduced to what he does between the lines. But the NBA’s reigning scoring champ is more than just a win, a loss or a number in the box score, as he made clear in this week’s cover story. Here, once again, the face of the Knicks franchise takes us inside his mind.
Melo on cigars:
I’ve been smoking cigars for eight years now. At first when I started, I was just doing it to be doing it. But then I found myself starting to like it more and more, doing research, studying about it, the different leaves and how it’s grown, and I just fell in love.
On buying art:
A couple of years ago, my wife bought me a Basquiat. As far as the other big guys, I like the Rembrandts, the Picassos, the Van Goghs and all that from an investment angle, but from a pure love for the art, it’s like, I want to support them 30 years [before they were famous]. I want to support the ground up. So I be in Soho a lot, going to the galleries, talking to the artists that are on the street.
On playing power forward:
Last year, that was just a quick switch. It happened so fast. I was playing the 4 due to injuries that we had. It just so happened that we were very successful as a team with me being at that position. I remember back in the day, when a 4 was a 4. There’s no 3’s playing 4’s, no 2’s playing 3’s. There were five positions. Now, it’s like two positions.
On offseason training:
This offseason was about just buckling down. Like, if I knew I was going to Puerto Rico for a weekend, turn that into a two-week trip and make that a training camp for myself. So I would bring my trainers down there, just trying different stuff, running on the beach, doing sprints in the ocean, bike riding in the mountains, just trying to push myself mentally. I was in good shape last year, but this is a different type of shape.
That borough, that’s like another city. Brooklyn is another city. To say Brooklyn really means something. It’s unlike the Bronx or Queens. To say Brooklyn really sticks to the soul. It’s like steak. It’s like raw meat. It sticks to you.
On Jason Kidd:
He was really good at seeing things before they happen, anticipating your move and always having a counter to it, with everything. Like, we would sit in the locker room and he would tell me, This is what’s going to happen and this is how we should counter it, and then, when it ends up happening, it’s like, How the hell did you just? But that was him. I will never forget all the numerous talks we had on the road, on the bus, on the plane, what he taught me. Even stuff he didn’t say to me, but he just did. Not having him around this season, it’s kind of like he was preparing me for this moment.
It’s like Fox News.
On having his career linked to LeBron James’s:
I accept that. It’s like a brother. I know we came into the league the same time, but I’m one year, year and a half older. So to see your brother succeed, part of me, I’m happy for him, despite what everybody says, because we grew up together. But another part of me is like, he did that? I gotta do that. That’s the competitive nature. If I see him doing that, getting attention, I gotta do everything I can, not because of him doing it. I want to do it. Then we can celebrate together.
On being a superstar in a team sport:
I don’t let that stuff get me frustrated. I try not to think about it, because if you think about it like that, you will get frustrated. But it’s true. Being a top guy on a team, being a superstar, you can score 35 points, hit every shot you’re supposed to, you can play the greatest game in the world, and you guys lose, it’s on you. Then it’s, Oh, he should have passed the ball more. What the hell you talking about? But if you guys win, and you’re the top scorer in the country or the world, and you don’t score what they expect you to score, it’s like, Yeah, we won, but Melo didn’t do this. If I talk about it like that, I could drive myself crazy.
On street cred:
When I came into the league, it was accepted to be on the streets. People looked up to me because of it, because I came from it. People didn’t want to accept Kobe, because Kobe didn’t come from that. But now, the ideas have changed. If you say, Oh, this is where I come from, you don’t get no credit for that. You get, Show me what you can do. That’s where the credit comes from.
On Jay Z:
I’m a big fan of Jay Z, just from the simple fact that I can feel his story.
On life beyond basketball:
I’m in the midst of building something that’s hopefully something special. Hopefully, it’s a brand. It’s a business. It’s something that’s way beyond my years of playing basketball. I never want to be in one lane, you know. It’s finding out what you love. If it’s about art, I wanna do some art. If it’s real estate, I wanna do some real estate. I want to be all across the board.
New York makes you want to be the best that you can be, because at the end of the day, if you’re not, you’re going to hear about it, regardless of what you do. If you’re not trying to be the best that you can be, people will feel it’s not authentic. Or if you’re trying too hard to be something that you’re not, that’s when you lose it, that’s when you lose New York.
Oh, man. I have one of the most serious wine collections, and don’t nobody know that. I have wine from the 1970s, 1950s, all the way up to 2010, 2011. I’m a French guy. I love French. I love first growth. Once you go French, you’re not coming back.
On NCAA student-athletes:
I think there should be some way that athletes should be paid—something. These teams, they bringing millions and millions of dollars to the university. You can’t tell me I can’t get $500. There’s no way I should be putting my livelihood on the line. And yes, I’m grateful for my scholarship, but we should get an allowance. We can’t pay for nothing. If we get money from someone, it’s a penalty. So what should we do? I can’t go to dinner.