Carmelo Anthony has no filter. I don't mean that he is the kind of player to pop off constantly through the press, but when the man speaks, he simply cannot help but say what he's really thinking, deep down in his soul. It has become a terrible hindrance to his popularity over the past few years.
In 2013, Melo told the world point-blank that he intended to test free agency because he wanted to see what it was like. He re-signed with New York and stayed with the Knicks through some of the most difficult times in franchise history, but he has also made it clear that his business interests and the happiness of his family factored into his decision. It proved a harsh reality for most sports fans, who crave from their stars either blind loyalty to the franchise or a single-minded focus on winning a ring. Melo is one of the hardest workers in the league, beloved by his teammates and feared by competitors, but none of that matters if he continues to say what he feels instead of what we want him to say.
It is that same habit -- the tendency to speak the whole, unvarnished truth -- which brought him back into the public consciousness this weekend. Even if you do not consider yourself a dedicated follower of Knicks players on social media, it would have been hard to miss the Instagram post Melo sent out on Friday. Hell, it even made the cover of the New York Daily News:
Saturday's powerful back page, with Carmelo... pic.twitter.com/XCRWlQPZ53— Peter Botte (@PeterBotte) July 8, 2016
Melo was inspired to speak out after witnessing horrific events of the past few days, but it is clear that this has long been on his mind. The quote come from this post, complete with a photo of the famous 1967 Ali summit, featuring several of the most prominent athlete activists in American history. Melo invokes the past to make a crucial point: This is not a new struggle.
First off let me start off by saying " All Praise Due To The Most High." Secondly, I'm all about rallying, protesting, fighting for OUR people. Look I'll even lead the charge, By Any Means Necessary. We have to be smart about what we are doing though. We need to steer our anger in the right direction. The system is Broken. Point blank period. It has been this way forever. Martin Luther King marched. Malcolm X rebelled. Muhammad Ali literally fought for US. Our anger should be towards the system. If the system doesn't change we will continue to turn on the TVs and see the same thing. We have to put the pressure on the people in charge in order to get this thing we call JUSTICE right. A march doesn't work. We tried that. I've tried that. A couple social media post/tweet doesn't work. We've all tried that. That didn't work. Shooting 11 cops and killing 5 WILL NOT work. While I don't have a solution, and I'm pretty sure a lot of people don't have a solution, we need to come together more than anything at this time. We need each other. These politicians have to step up and fight for change. I'm calling for all my fellow ATHLETES to step up and take charge. Go to your local officials, leaders, congressman, assemblymen/assemblywoman and demand change. There's NO more sitting back and being afraid of tackling and addressing political issues anymore. Those days are long gone. We have to step up and take charge. We can't worry about what endorsements we gonna lose or whose going to look at us crazy. I need your voices to be heard. We can demand change. We just have to be willing to. THE TIME IS NOW. IM all in. Take Charge. Take Action. DEMAND CHANGE. Peace7 #StayMe7o
The system is broken. Not only that, it has always been broken. The problems faced by Muhammad Ali and Bill Russell's generation are the same ones we see today. The Celtics legend has his own story about a frightening encounter with the police:
Bill Russell on keeping his hands up during a traffic stop. pic.twitter.com/y7Z3P3l2hX— profloumoore (@loumoore12) July 8, 2016
So did Wilt Chamberlain:
These days athletes like Melo can travel with security entourages, and they're generally recognizable enough that nobody would mistake him for a Brinks truck hijacker. But that hasn't stopped him from taking an interest in the plight of African Americans, whether marching with the Black Lives Matter movement, visiting young men in Rikers Island and speaking out for gun control. And now he is calling for even more action.
The German writer Thomas Mann once said, "Everything is politics." We've seen as much in the days following the tragedies in Baton Rouge, Minnesota and Dallas. Turn on the news and you'll see cruel firebrands like Jeff Roorda trying to connect a mass shooting to a president whose policies he doesn't agree with:
Carmelo Anthony probably won't be invited on the news anytime soon. He's not an "expert" or whatever the hell these sleazeballs are supposed to be. He's just a basketball player with 4 million Instagram followers and a tendency to say what believes. Here's hoping he never stops.