What you see is an emotional American athlete after not only becoming history, but calling it quits in the 2016 Olympic games. Carmelo Anthony has played the last 12 years and each time brought home gold. We have seen Carmelo surpass records and become the veteran this young team needed. I believe we saw glimpses of his future role with the Knicks and possibly creating a winning team, but one thing we have all seen recently is Carmelo speaking up off the court. And it’s arguably, the best thing I have seen all NBA season.
What we witnessed today wasn’t the shocking truth of how great our USA Basketball team is, but the truth in Carmelo’s legacy. We have seen him grow in a matter of months as not just an athlete, but a community activist. Upon seeing the violence that has disrupted our country, the All-Star Knick has made it his business to not only create dialogue, but change. Carmelo has become a leading example of what it means to be a role model, not just one making millions and dunks, but one issuing change and changing lives.
This doesn’t discredit other athletes that have used their platform for equal rights, mainly our WNBA athletes who faced hell and high water because they refused to be silenced about their #BlackLivesMatter t-shirts or Lebron James sending countless kids to college, but this spotlight deserves to be on Carmelo. And it’s about time.
Carmelo has easily become one of my favorite athletes this year. He’s usually as quiet as they come, but recently we have seen the emergence of more than an athlete; we now see an activist. For the last couple of years, we have been looking for athletes to speak on racial matters. In previous decades, names like Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, and Jim Brown were at the forefront of social issues, forcing the world to deal with racism firsthand and call for change. These days it would seem that money has blinded our athletes and forced them into a shield of protection from advocating black rights. To a fan, it would seem that their position means more to them than their ability to have a platform and commit to change, becoming more than just another name on a roster. Carmelo Anthony and a few others have yielded that stereotype, stepped into the spotlight and finally, spoke up.
This summer has been incredibly busy for Carmelo. From organizing community discussions to winning his third straight Olympic gold, he’s been covering all his bases. Surely we can all count the records Carmelo has achieved, but it his visits to Rio’s Favelas, or slums, where he spent time with the kids playing basketball that really shined. It was at that moment you realized Carmelo’s activism wasn’t just a one time thing at the ESPYs, but something he’s growing in.
The speech he delivered post beating Serbia for Olympic Gold was something beyond emotional, it was in a sense, the realization of self. I can only imagine what it’s like playing for a country that wasn’t built for you to win, and making them global champions. It’s sad that people love you when it’s of convenience for them, sometimes how it feels as an African-American. But we all want change, we just don’t know how to go about it or even where, but it takes efforts on all fronts to commit that change. It can’t be done alone.
Carmelo teared up speaking on his last run as an olympian and winning with a great group of ballers, but it was towards the end of his speech that really moved you. With his heart still on American issues, he spoke on acknowledging the violence and unifying his country, because we can be great.
“In spite of everything that’s going on now in our country, we’ve gotta be united. I’m glad I did what I did. I stepped up to the challenge. This is what it’s about, representing our country on the biggest stage that you can be on. America will be great again. I believe that. We got a lot of work to do but, it’s one step at a time. I’m glad we represented it in the fashion that we did.”
Carmelo stepped up to more than just bringing home the gold; he’s stepped up in becoming an athlete with a voice. Not in a million years did I think Carmelo Anthony would be leading the pack on social issues, but I’m glad he did. One thing we can take away from USA Men’s basketball? Carmelo Anthony showed what it’s truly meant to be an Olympic athlete, a golden winner on and off the court.