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Throwback Thursday: Carmelo Anthony’s High School Legacy

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By Drew Hammell

 

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I’ve been fortunate to see Carmelo Anthony in person once in my life – a few days prior to All-Star Weekend in New York City back in February of 2015. He was a block away from Madison Square Garden, making cameo appearances in a few nearby sneaker stores. With cameras flashing, a mob quickly grew to get a look at the 6-foot 8-inch Knick forward. Melo would pick up an Air Jordan sneaker in the store, look it over as a PR person explained some details about it, smile for a few photos, and then put the sneaker back on the shelf.

This year, the Jordan Brand star will be entering his 16th season in the NBA. The 34-year-old was picked 3rd overall by the Denver Nuggets in 2003 (behind LeBron James and Darko Milicic). Since then, Melo has played in 10 All-Star Games, and is one of only six players to record over 24,000 points, 6,000 rebounds, 2,500 assists, 1,000 steals, and 1,000 3-pointers. He’s played for the US Olympic Team four times – in 2004 where he won a bronze medal, and then in 2008, 2012, and 2016 where he won gold. He is the US Men’s Olympic all-time leader in scoring, rebounds, and games played. This season, he’ll be playing for the Houston Rockets for the league veteran minimum salary ($2.394 million).

 

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It’s difficult to tell what type of legacy Melo will be remembered for. He’s got the stats to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. However, he’s never won an NBA championship. When he played for the Nuggets, he led the team to the playoffs every year from 2004 to 2010, but the farthest they got was the Conference Finals in 2009 against the Lakers.

Sometimes, however, a player’s legacy is defined by more than just rings. No one can deny the impact Melo makes when he is on the court. There are very few scorers who can turn it on like Melo can year in and year out. On January 24th, 2014, Anthony set the MSG and Knicks single game scoring record with 62 points against the Bobcats. In college, he played one year for Syracuse and led the team to the National Championship over Kansas.

 

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Legacy is also defined by what players do off the court. Melo’s father was Puerto Rican, so when the country was ravaged by Hurricane Maria last year, Anthony started a fundraiser to help victims and donated $50,000 on his own. The Carmelo Anthony Foundation has funded school projects in Baltimore (where he spent part of his childhood) and helped bring aid to Flint, Michigan during the water crisis. He’s also partnered with the Boys & Girls club, and helped build basketball courts for kids who need them in Puerto Rico and New York.

It’s been 16 years since Carmelo Anthony played his final game for Oak Hill Academy, his alma mater. He only played one year for the Virginia Boarding School, but he certainly made quite an impression there as well. Melo played his first three years of high school ball for Towson Catholic, but then transferred to powerhouse Oak Hill for his senior year. During that time, Melo became friends with LeBron James, and on one fateful Sunday that season, the two faced off against each other in front of 11,000 people at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, New Jersey. It is one of the most talked about high school games ever, and Melo’s Oak Hill team won 72-66 as Anthony poured in 34 points.

Oak Hill would go 32-1 that year, and was ranked 3rd in the country. Melo would be selected to the McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic that year as well. Since 2002, Melo has been a Jordan man. He wore Air Jordans in high school, Air Jordans in college, and signed with Jordan when he came into the NBA. As part of the ‘Back to School’ collection, the brand is releasing an Air Jordan 13 inspired by Melo’s time at Oak Hill, his alma mater. The shoe features a black and gold upper with red hits to match the high school jersey Melo donned back in 2002.  The colors and the sneaker itself speak to the legacy Melo is still creating for himself. He still has time to win a cherished NBA ring, but he’s certainly done plenty both on and off the court to earn the respect from both athletes and many others he’s helped along the way.

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