Carmelo Anthony On “The Why With Dwyane Wade” Podcast

Carmelo Anthony speaks on the 2004 Olympics, Joe Dumars’ 2003 draft decision, Phil Jackson pushing him out of New York, and more on “The Why with Dwyane Wade” podcast.

Today, we share highlights from this week’s episode of the iHeartPodcasts series “The Why with Dwyane Wade”–a co-production of iHeartPodcasts and Wade’s 59th & Prairie Entertainment–featuring a sit-down interview with NBA legend, and co-host of “7PM in Brooklyn”, Carmelo Anthony where he opens up about his early love for baseball and the unexpected affiliation his father had with the Young Lords.

Melo remembers a pivotal decision he made when he declined to play for Puerto Rico in the 2004 Olympics and delves into the emotional journey of his father’s impact on his life.

Later in the episode, the guys delve into Melo’s draft experience and his desire to sit down with former Pistons head coach Joe Dumars to discuss the 2003 draft decision to take Darko Miličić as the second overall pick instead.

The episode wraps with Melo discussing challenges he faced at the end of his career, from being pushed out of New York by Phil Jackson to trying to make it work in OKC and Houston to his reluctance to attend Dwyane’s last game in MSG.

PART ONE

26:10 – MELO SAYS BASEBALL WAS HIS FIRST LOVE, “BASKETBALL WAS THIRD ON THE LIST”

Melo:Baseball was my first love…I just love baseball, maybe it’s the Puerto Rican gene, I just love baseball. When I was in Red Hook, we had a court right outside the window of the projects. So yeah, I love playing basketball, I love going out there on the court, I love watching my brothers and family play and friends play…but I didn’t know it. I just knew it was an activity. When I got to Baltimore and I got a chance to play little league baseball and football season I can play football, basketball [season] I can play basketball. Basketball was like third on the list at that point but I can play it…I brought that New York flash, that grit, that toughness down to where I was at [in Baltimore] on top of the grit and toughness that was already there.”

36:20 – MELO TALKS ABOUT HIS FATHER & HOW HE LEARNED HIS DAD WAS A PUERTO RICAN YOUNG LORD

Melo:It wasn’t until high school when I went to Puerto Rico and they wanted me to play on the Junior National Team, representing Puerto Rico. I knew I was Puerto Rican, I didn’t know the ties. I knew my dad was Puerto Rican but I didn’t know how deep it goes. Honestly, that was a moment of like, I have to go figure this out. I gotta start asking questions because now this void of not having a dad is like damn I’m about to make it to the NBA, I wish he was here…you start having all of these moments, I’m doing it for him.

…Everywhere I would go in Brooklyn they would say ‘ay yo you look just like your dad. You walk like your dad, you talk like your dad. Like your whole aura is your dad’ …Even like when I got to ‘Cuse [Syracuse University] – my dad was locked up upstate for a while, they called him Mr. Wonderful he scored like 50-something points upstate in the jail so he was known as fly, Puerto Rican, ‘fro, you know, classy, tall 6’5”, 6’6”. But he hung with the Blacks so it was always that connection, Black Puerto Rican so I always knew that connection. So as I’m on this road of discovery, La [La La Anthony, Melo’s ex-wife] gives me a picture for Christmas…it’s a painting and it’s me as a kid and then there’s my dad and he in like the jail pose…I was like this is everyday attire for him. That’s something different…As I started to discover, I realized my dad was a Young Lord. Young Lords are basically the Puerto Rican version of Black Panthers. It’s the version of the Black Panther depending on who you actually ask…So I started digging deeper into what is a Young Lord. Oh he look fly. So you start going now I can use the internet. Now I start pulling up pictures and researching and like wow that’s where I get it from.

40:54 – MELO SHARES HE TURNED DOWN PLAYING FOR PUERTO RICO IN THE 2004 OLYMPICS AND THAT’S WHY LOSING THEM WAS SO PAINFUL; RECALLS “DON’T ASK ME, I DIDN’T PLAY” MOMENT

Dwyane:I didn’t even think about that. Losing to Puerto Rico in the Olympics in 2004–

Melo:Now you see, the stories that I’m telling you is adding up to the moment of ‘Don’t ask me, I didn’t play’ in ‘04 against Puerto Rico. But the stories leading up to that, nobody knows. It’s like I could’ve, should’ve played with them…I left Puerto Rico, about to say yay [yes to playing for them] and then I realized that I plan on being in this league [the NBA] for a long time. USAB [USA Basketball] is the pinnacle. At the time, Puerto Rico had good players on the island but it was like I want USA Basketball.

Dwyane:Yeah, it’s the highest honor at that time.”

Melo:It wasn’t where we put it out. I’m going to break it down to you from my perspective. ‘04 I was gonna play with Puerto Rico…right after that I get the call for ‘04 Olympics [for USA].

Dwyane:Because all the players opted out.

Melo:Everybody opted out so this is telling you where USAB was at that point in time. Everybody opted out. All the top dogs opted out. It was only a couple of people left. They call us, [and I thought] hell yeah I’m playing. That mindset of I’m going to get to it…Man, I get to play USA Basketball in the Olympics after my first year in the NBA. I can establish myself. This is [the] dream team. And we go play that game in ‘04, get the shit beat out of us and the rest is history.

PART TWO

20:35 – MELO ON BEING TOLD HE WOULD BE THE #2 PICK IN THE DRAFT; FINDING OUT THE PISTONS WERE WORKING OUT DARKO AND GOING TO DETROIT TO FIND HIM

Melo:I never thought about Denver though. I thought I was going to Detroit. Denver was never in my mind.

Dwyane:So you thought you was going to be the number two pick in the draft?

Melo:I was sold, it was done…I was told that by him…that you gon’ be the pick. So in my mind, my confidence shoot straight up, I’m on campus [at Syracuse] and I get this [information]. I’m getting Detroit sweatsuits, I’m getting the practice basketballs, I’m getting NBA socks, like I’m a Detroit Piston in college. And then it don’t happened.

Dwyane:When did you [know] it wasn’t gonna happen?

Melo:The draft day!

Dwyane:So you didn’t know until draft day?

Melo:Yeah, I kinda had inklings…they started talking about Detroit. And whenever someone starts talking about something all of a sudden, something’s happening. So as we [are] hearing about Darko [Miličić] oh we [going] to Detroit. We gotta go find where Darko is working out. We got to get to it. We got to find him, man, where [are] they hiding him at? We [are] going to work out with him, we [are] pulling up…We go into every gym, we [are] going to find him – this is a true story – we go into the gym, we want Darko…to show I might be the number one pick…so I gotta prove that.

26:40 – MELO SAYS HE WANTS TO SIT DOWN WITH FORMER PISTONS HC JOE DUMARS TO TALK ABOUT THE 2003 DRAFT DECISION

Dwyane:Did Detroit ever say why they decided to go with Darko over you?

Melo:Nah, I mean I’m a man now I wanna sit with Josh Dumars like yo, what’s up? Let’s talk…I had to grow out of that as a man like fuck that shit. Maybe if I went there [Detroit] shit would have been different. But that’s the older me. The younger me is like man, I was in Detroit. I was an hour away from B-More [Baltimore]. Imagine how we would’ve had Detroit along with the culture and the vibe and the love that Detroit already have. We would’ve been Motor City! We would’ve been crazy out there.

54:42 – MELO TALKS ABOUT FINISHING HIS CAREER AS A BENCH PLAYER, HOW PHIL JACKSON PUSHED HIM OUT OF NEW YORK AND THE EMPTY PROMISES OKC MADE HIM

Dwyane:How did you deal with being up here for so long, and then feeling like nobody wanted you?

Melo:It took me back to [being] a kid. It took me back to shit always being taken away from you. I did work this hard to get to this point and it’s just that easy you can just take it away from me with no explanation…to this day, I don’t know what the explanation is. I can laugh about it now but at that point in time, that shit was difficult to deal with because you [are] coming from All-Star…to, I can’t make a nine-man roster?

Dwyane:So how did it get there? From what you understand?

Melo:Bro, I don’t understand this shit, to this day I really don’t understand it. There’s no explanation. Listen, I’m gonna try to give you this in a quick summary. When I left New York, I didn’t leave New York. I got pushed out of New York, Phil [Jackson] pushed me out of New York. I struggled to leave New York. OKC, and I’ll support Sam Presti to this day in whatever he want to do. He came in the 25th hour, ‘Melo, we’re taking you, we believe in you, you are the piece that we need in OKC…I never thought we would be in this situation to be able to have somebody like you.’ …I’m like oh this is perfect…I could just play ball, I got Russ[ell Westbrook], I got PG [Paul George], I’m cool…It was slowly like pulling back on Melo…but then you ain’t incorporated into the offense, you ain’t part of the system, I’m asking what’s going on…At this point, I was willing to change my game, I knew PG, Russ, I’m going there to figure this out with all three of us.

1:06:55 – MELO RECALLS GETTING RELEASE FROM HOUSTON AND CONFRONTING CHRIS PAUL

Melo:We’re like 3-5 or something [and he said we] need to meet. I’m thinking he wanted to meet with me to figure out what’s going on with the team and the players – I don’t want to say his name – come to my room and says, ‘yeah I think your services are no longer needed.’

Dwyane:Straight to it, no foreplay.

Melo:…I say ah many get out of here, what you talking about man, we gonna figure this out. Now I gotta take it on the joking side. He’s like ‘ah man but nah we don’t see you as part of the plans going into playoffs.’ Playoffs? We are nine games into the season, you talking about playoffs. So now I’m getting serious and he’s very stoic just like this is what it’s going to be. And I say, ‘Damn bro, you don’t have a soul man, you don’t have a heart. I can take it. But the fact that you came in here and told me we don’t have a place for you on this team and I asked you why and you telling me well it’s just not a fit…what’s not going to fit? So now, wheels are turning, call CP [Chris Paul]. Yo, CP, bruh, you my family, you my brother, you knew anything about this? This is real talk, this is one o’clock in the morning…I need to holla at you. [He said] I swear I ain’t…And to this day I can’t figure out what happened. I don’t know what happened.

1:12:33 – MELO TALKS ABOUT RELUCTANTLY GOING TO DWYANE’S LAST GAME AT MSG

Dwyane:And the first time you showed up to a game [after walking away from basketball] was my last year. In The Garden. My last game.

Melo:It was. And that was so hard to come to. I said man, I’m not going to that. Tell my man we going to dinner after. Hell no. In The Garden? Bro I’m like no, no way please.

Dwyane:My last game in The Garden, you showed up.

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