Chat with Tom Farrey
While Anthony has had success off the court with the launch of his new shoe, the Jordan Melo 5.5, he has also found trouble, having been caught with a bag of marijuana at the airport and embroiled in controversy about his appearance in an underground DVD titled ''Stop Snitching'', in which reputed drug dealers talk about what happens to those who snitch to the police.
Farrey sat down with Anthony for a one-on-one interview to talk about his career on and off the court and he's now sitting down with you to discuss Anthony, the NBA's image and much more.
Send your questions and comments now and join Farrey in The Show on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET.
Tom Farrey (4:00 PM)
Hey, I'm here. Questions?
Tom, I'm a Syracuse grad who was fortunate enough to interview Melo a couple times post-game while at school. He seemed even then to be able to have fun with the media and not give just one-liners. How does he feel about the media at this point of his career?
Tom Farrey (4:04 PM)
Seems like he enjoys the media, Jon. He's a playful guy who also has a serious side, and he likes to mix it up and see what pops out. As his mother says, "He's a challenger." By which I think she is saying that he isn't the type to crawl into a shell and always play it safe. He likes his young life, he likes who he is, and the media is his tableau.
d. brown boise,id
does his loyalty to his hood and street code, make him more of a target in corporate america to not want to be associated with? why?
Tom Farrey (4:13 PM)
Corporate America wants to move product, and if Corporate America comes to believe that Melo moves product, he'll get all the endorsements in the world. Allen Iverson has always sold shoes and jerseys because the street drives those categories. He hasn't been able to do much on Madison Avenue, though. But I think there's a couple distinctions to make between Melo and AI. First of all, Iverson was the first real street guy to get out there; he was the pioneer and the pioneer always gets viewed with a disproportionate amount of skepticism. But NBA players with tats and cornrows are no longer unusual, in part because Iverson broke the barrier and paved the way for others. Also, Iverson always seems like he's scowling, whereas Anthony has one of the best smiles anywhere. He seems so likeable. At the end of the day, I think his good spirit will carry him and in fact he'll blend the street and corporate like no one has before him.
Hubert, centreville, VA
hey Tom, do you think carmelo has earn a spot in the allstar team this year?
Tom Farrey (4:17 PM)
I don't follow the NBA as closely as our NBA writers (I'm a general assignment reporter). But the NBA has been my beat in the past, and it's hard to believe he wouldn't receive serious consideration. He's putting up huge points, playing efficiently, taking the smart shots and earning the respect of his teammates by kicking out of double teams more often. George Karl seems like he couldn't be happier with his development. The third year is an important year in the life of an NBA player -- it's when players often announce whether they're going to take the next step and become a superstar, or just simply remain a good player we are likely to watch for years. Melo seems like he's announcing that he's in that elite tier.
Hi Tom... I've seen on TV lately that maybe Lebron won't become the superstar he was hyped to be because of a 'lack of a killer instinct.' I think Carmelo has the instinct, but do you think he has the drive/talent to reach the levels of the truly great players?
Tom Farrey (4:21 PM)
Only time will tell, but my sense is that he does. He is not by nature an aggressive person. That's why his defense isn't all that tough, for instance. But he is learning how to assert himself, by driving the hoop, getting the fouls, doing what it takes to put up consistent numbers and help his team. It's all about ambition, and each player expresses it differently. I get the sense Melo is quite ambitious.
What's all this talk about Carmelo's street credibility? Okay, he may be from the hood but that doesn't automatically give you street cred. Someone please fill me in on what all this talk about Carmelo is about.
Tom Farrey (4:26 PM)
That's a really good question, especially if you're asking how street cred translates into an on-court setting. I'm not sure it matters. If you can play, you can play. I think it might matter to some degree in a locker-room setting -- you know, the chemistry of the team. Kobe Bryant, for instance, has no street cred, and perhaps that serves as another hurdle in connecting with and finding respect from his teammates.
Anthony won't be taken seriously as an MVP-level superstar until he starts playing some defense (much like Nowitzki and Carter; a rare exception is Nash). What made Michael Jordan special, and what separates players like Tim Duncan today, is not being the best offensive player on the floor, but ALSO being the best defensive player. When you can dominate both ends of the gym, then you can lead your teams to titles.
Tom Farrey (4:30 PM)
I'm inclined to agree. There are so many talented players in the NBA each year, the MVP award seems like it should go to the player who excels on both ends. Melo's a young player, and maybe he enhances that part of his game over time. Right now, it's not all that instinctual, as he's never been asked to play all that much defense on previous teams. But he's smart enough to learn some techniques that can help him on that end. Again, this will be an interesting aspect of his development to watch.
TJ, Tampa Palms
Hello Mr. Tom, Do you feel that Carmelo will be invited to play for Team USA, or will get snubbed due to the Stop Snitchin' tape?
Tom Farrey (4:34 PM)
I know that USA Basketball has contacted him about playing for the team, and he expressed an interest. I don't think the Stop Snitching DVD will make one bit of difference. Why would it? If the team needs a mid-range shooter (as Larry Brown needed in Athens, even though Melo barely left the bench), they'll pick him. In the two months I spent working on the story, I didn't come away thinking the kid is trouble. He just has some thoughts on inner-city social issues.
All this talk of "street cred" is ludicrous. I doubt any player on the Spurs has any "street cred", but they do have a handful of rings, sell a ton of gear, sell out their Arena every game, and couldn't pay for anything in San Antonio if they tried.
Tom Farrey (4:40 PM)
True enough. Seeking "street cred" means you are more concerned with getting the approval of others than you are about living up to your own standards. Most of the players on the Spurs are simply comfortable being themselves, whether or not "street cred" accrues to them. That's a true sign of maturity. I think where Melo's coming from is that he feels strongly about where he came from, which are the streets of Baltimore, and wants to speak to those issues. If people in ghettos across the U.S. say "ah, Melo gets it," that's a connection that he can do something with. It's an audience that will listen. And anyone trying to change things (and yes, sell sneakers) needs an audience.
Matt (Spokane, WA)
Does Larry Bird have street cred?
Tom Farrey (4:42 PM)
Sure, with middle-age men in small towns and suburbs across America. And, I guess, Boston. I'll let Bill Simmons tackle that one.
Tom, lets say that you are about to launch a new ad campaign and for a soft drinks, or mp3 players, or some thing specifically targeted at kids. Who would you want as the face of your company (you cannot use Lebron)?
Tom Farrey (4:43 PM)
I don't know. Earl Boykins? He's the same size ...
Tim (San Antonio)
Big Bird has Sesame Street cred...
Tom Farrey (4:43 PM)
do you think melo would have done this tape if he knew it be seen all over? They only made like 100 copies.
Tom Farrey (4:47 PM)
No. I think he figured it would never get out of Baltimore. The producer is a local barber who had previously made some hip-hop DVDs that got traction locally, but that was about it. Melo figured it was a local thing, so why not, let the guy with the handheld camera roll as his friend trash-talked on the street. He never expected it to blow up like this, or that people would assume he supports violence. Which he doesn't. In fact, on the DVD, he laughs at first when the guy yammers on about witnesses getting a "hole in their head." But then he quickly stops laughing, as if he knows this isn't cool. He just didn't walk away from the scene, as perhaps he could have. I just think he didn't take this DVD all that seriously at the time.
Andrew (Denver, CO)
Street cred just doesn't seem that important to me. Did Michael Jordan have street cred? Doubtful. Just because he played in Chicago doesn't give street cred to anyone and MJ was the best. I think, for example, that the business attire on the bench and off the bus is a wrong step to take. If we water the NBA down too much, it loses its edge and marketability.
Tom Farrey (4:55 PM)
MJ had street cred. He had the long shorts, the famed shoes, and the rings. Even though he's from North Carolina, he gets his respect from the streets. Even now.
It sounds to me like Carmelo has made some mistakes, but has learned a lot from them. Why then, with all the good things he has done both on and off the court in the year since, do you think people (esp. the media) keep fixating on all the negative?
Tom Farrey (5:00 PM)
I'm not sure the media is fixating on the "negative." The media is drawn to what is distinct about a person's experience, and what's happened to him over the past year provides some insight into the person and player he is becoming. We all have our journeys, our adventures, and this is his. We're just trying to understand his unique experience as best as possible, especially in light of the fact that he wouldn't talk about some of those events until recently. I think the past year's trials are what make him interesting.
Jon (Boston, MA)
Tom, love the Nike commercial with 'Melo. Quick question, when 'Melo looks to the sidewalks, who does he see?? I only recognize Jimmy B (greatest college coach of all time). Who else is there? BTW, Larry Bird has all the street cred he could need in Beantown!!
Tom Farrey (5:06 PM)
I know Bernard King is there, as Melo grew up admiring his game. And there's Kevin Liles, a Baltimore native who has served as a mentor to Melo. Liles is the highest-ranking black executive in music (at Warner, after building up Def Jam) and he's the guy reading the newspaper. The fact that Boeheim is in there cracks me up. I know Melo wanted him in there because these are the important figures in his basketball life, but what's Boeheim doing hanging out in front of abandoned rowhouses at 1 a.m.? Guess the dude's a relentless recruiter ...
PC Huntersville, NC
Tom, In your opinion, do you think that Carmelo knows the difference between right and wrong?
Tom Farrey (5:11 PM)
Yes, although he's young and sorting the cowboys from the angels isn't always easy to do when you grow up in West Baltimore. Drug dealers bought his uniforms as a youth player when family money was tight, so what's he supposed to do, turn that guy into the police? I'm not sure the difference between right and wrong is always separated by a bright blue line. I think Melo has an ethical sensibility, and a conscience, and he's trying to figure these things out as he moves along.
Who is Carmelo's best friend on the team?
Tom Farrey (5:13 PM)
I asked Melo that. He said Julius Hodge.
Mike (San Antonio, TX)
I think it's folly that the media portrays LeBron as if he can never do anything wrong. Why is it that both players were in the same exact situation during the US Olympics yet Melo is the one that appeared to be 'pouting' while LeBron was too young. I think the media's bias towards LeBron is unwarranted - he still has a lot to prove in the NBA, just like Melo.
Tom Farrey (5:16 PM)
LeBron's been more careful about his image, how he's portrayed. You could almost call it calculating. That's hurt him in a way. Because he has been packaged so well, he has yet to really connect in any emotional way with fans. My guess is that's why Nike had him do his current set of commercials in which he plays various characters, ala Nutty Professor. It's an attempt to show the world he has some personality. That's never been a problem with Melo, who seems to have easily connected with fans.
Brooke, burlington, vermont
Carmelo Anthony is one of my favorite players in the league. We have heard him recently saying that he is sick and tired of always hearing Lebron's name and being compared with him, even though Lebron and him are good friends. Do you think this will go on for his career and if so will he just let it go or will it continue to bother him?
Tom Farrey (5:23 PM)
The Melo vs. LeBron thing is an artificial rivalry, based strictly on the fact that they came into the league in the same year. They rarely play each other, and they're really two different types of players. I think Melo wants to carve his own identity. And who would want to always be compared to LeBron anyway? Unless something changes, LeBron figures to be the dominant player of his era. I think Melo can find his happiness and success without the LeBron comparison.
Jamal (South Bend)
Melo can't shoot... he'd be horrible on Team USA and I hope he's left off. All he can do is score, and there are better at that job - Arenas, Kobe, LeBron, AI, etc. You need shooters with the international game, and Melo aint one.
Tom Farrey (5:24 PM)
He's not great behind the three-point line, but I disagree with the notion that he can't shoot. He won back-to-back games a couple weeks ago with last-minute shots, both 15-18 foot jumpers.
LeBron comes from a rough life to, I dont see him paradeing it around. Why Does Melo do this?
Tom Farrey (5:29 PM)
Because he wants to. He likes playing with the persona. And he feels that' s who he is, even though I got the sense basketball sort of kept him off the streets during his teenage years. He went to private high schools outside the city, for instance.
Tom Farrey (5:31 PM)
I have time for one more question ...
I dont really consider melo to have a tough-guy image. He always smiles, yah he does some stupid things that make him look like a thug, but he always got that smile. Also the Light Blue Denver uniforms sure dont help him look like a tough-guy haha.
Tom Farrey (5:34 PM)
Hey, that's POWER KEG BLUE, man. Explosive, those Nuggets.
Tom Farrey (5:35 PM)
Gotta jam. Thanks for all the questions ... great questions, really. I enjoyed it. Take care, and goodbye.
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