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2015 was the year Carmelo Anthony spoke

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

I think I'm always going to revisit this on New Year's Eve. It just comes to mind as soon as I see the date. 2 years ago to the day, Carmelo Anthony called a heckler on Twitter "glazed donut face ass." It was funny, and fascinating because it protruded so curiously from the rest of his public image -- blandly corporate, processed, and self-promotional. I wrote this a year ago today:

Melo is a complicated spectacle on the court, but his off-the-court persona is just insipid.

I do not begrudge an individual his wealth, especially as self-made and charitable a man as Anthony. At this point, though, the defining trait of Melo's public-facing personality is "rich," and it appears he wants it that way.

Plenty things stayed #Me7o in 2015 -- Anthony's Twitter is still 99% impersonal and brand-y. Melo is still extremely rich and extremely charitable, and he's still a prolific businessman, adding things like a soccer franchise and creative control over Ninja Turtles merchandise to his portfolio in 2015. He still embraces the world of timepieces. And he still goes after random fans sometimes!

This is all fine. It's good! But Melo's persona also evolved this year. One could argue he's turned a corner as a player and a leader on the court and in the locker room, but we're talking well beyond that. In 2015..

- Melo spoke out about inequality and police violence in Baltimore after Freddie Gray's death, then marched with Black Lives Matters protesters.

- Melo, as part of a remarkably candid VICE seriesvisited young inmates at Rikers Island and spoke extensively about prison reform.

- Melo appeared in the NBA's TV PSAs collaborating with Everytown For Gun Safety.

- Melo, hours after Cleanthony Early was shot, spoke out not just about player safety, but about gun control.

Melo showed us what he cares about. These were mostly unsolicited, unprecedented stands. He's always been one of sport's most charitable stars, and this year he became one of its most outspokenly progressive. Melo put his mouth where his money is.

As a fan, I don't need my athletes to be political, and someone like Melo certainly need not care what some asshole at a computer thinks. But for reasons only he could explain, Melo departed boldly from sticking to sports -- and to business -- in 2015, and I thought it was pretty cool.