With the 1st pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected LeBron James. With the 2nd pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons selected Darko Milicic, and with the 3rd pick in the 2003 NBA Draft the Denver Nuggets selected Carmelo Anthony. There was an enormous amount of anticipation surrounding these three picks and the star studded 2003 class, but these three players who were once grouped together have gone in completely different directions over the course of their careers.
The 1st pick has turned into the face of the NBA, won MVP awards and championship rings and is constantly compared to the all-time greats. The 2nd pick, well, the 2nd pick did little but ride the pine, and has since retired from basketball to pursue a kickboxing career. Already two fascinating, yet vastly different, tales from the first two picks, but the 3rd pick has become one of the more intriguing stories in the NBA. Carmelo has had a difficult time in the NBA and will be disappointed not to have won more in his career. Individually, Carmelo has proven himself to be one of the great scorers in the modern game and has electrified crowds with his abilities, making him one of the most popular players in the league (7th in jersey sales and a 7-time All-Star).
Carmelo has struggled to carry both the Nuggets and Knicks on his back, and although he helped the Nuggets become a playoff team, they were eliminated in the 1st round for five straight years, and six times in seven playoff appearances through Melo's tenure in Denver. Their one long run came in 2008-09 when they brought the eventual champion Lakers to six games in the Western Conference Finals. He has only made it out of the 1st round twice in his career, and the Knicks failed to make the playoffs last time out and will be going on a long summer holiday this year too.
This is hugely frustrating for Carmelo, but also for the fans who want to see one of the best offensive players in the league and 2012-13’s scoring champ on the big stage. It has been a fascinating journey for Carmelo, who won’t be turning to kickboxing anytime soon and will be desperate to change his fortune before hanging up his boots.
Here are 15 interesting facts about the no.3 pick.
15 He is half Puerto Rican
Anthony was born and raised in the U.S., but has a father who was Puerto Rican and unfortunately passed away when Carmelo was just two years old. Carmelo has played for Team USA with pride and won a pair of Olympic gold medals with the team, but he also takes great pride in his Latin roots and is quick to let people know of his heritage. He has the Puerto Rican flag tattooed on his shooting hand, serving as a constant reminder of his late father and his roots. Anthony’s wife, Lala Vazquez, is also of Puerto Rican descent.
14 He is a philanthropist
Like most star athletes, Carmelo earns an enormous amount of money each year and leads a lavish lifestyle, but he also uses his wealth and profile to help those in need. A few examples of his charitable nature include him establishing the Carmelo Anthony Foundation, which gives back to the community though donations and outreach programs. He also opened The Carmelo Anthony Youth Development Centre, which was in partnership with the Living Classrooms Foundations (he contributed $1.5 million to their cause). Carmelo also donated $1,000 per point he scored against the Rockets and Spurs following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, seeing him donate $35,000 to relief efforts.
13 He was named the Big East Rookie of the Week a record 10 times
Although he only played one year in college, Carmelo had an incredible season at Syracuse and proved himself to be one of the most dominant players despite being a freshman. He earned the Big East Rookie of the Week award 10 times, a conference record which still stands today. He surpassed NBA legend Allen Iverson, who won the award nine times during the first of his two years at Georgetown.
12 He led Syracuse to a 30-5 record and their first ever NCAA Championship
Carmelo could have gone straight into the NBA from high school like so many other players did in this time, but instead he opted to join Syracuse, who were struggling and began the season unranked. Few players can say they had achieved what Carmelo did in their entire college career, let alone just one season.
Carmelo put the team on his back and dominated from the get go, entering the NCAA tournament as a no.3 seed and with an impressive 24-5 record. He dropped 20 and 10 in the Elite Eight against Oklahoma, scored a career high 33 against T.J Ford and the Longhorns in the Final Four (the most scored by a freshman at this stage) and pulled down 14 rebounds, before putting in a monster performance in the championship game against the Jayhawks with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. He was the first freshman to lead the championship team in scoring with 22.2 PPG, and he gave Syracuse their first ever NCAA Championship in the process. This led them to retire his jersey, despite Carmelo only staying one year.
11 He won the Sprite Slam Jam Dunk Contest prior to the McDonalds All-American game
Carmelo is a fine athlete and has put down some fantastic dunks in his career, but generally he is not considered to be a high flyer or elite dunker. He clearly was back in his high school days at Oak Hill Academy, as prior to impressing in the McDonalds All-American game he won the Sprite Slam Jam Dunk Contest with some incredible high flying exploits.
Carmelo demonstrated great explosiveness earlier in his NBA career, but like most players at the age of 30 he has lost some athleticism and does not throw down dunks quite like he used to. If given the opportunity however, Carmelo is still capable of embarrassing anyone caught napping under the basket.
10 He has a 7-year-old son, Kiyan Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo became a father on the 7th of March, 2007, his now wife giving birth to their son Kiyan Carmelo Anthony. Carmelo was engaged to his partner, Lala Vazquez, at the time but they married in 2010 in New York City with the ceremony being filmed by VH1 for the reality series La La’s Full Court Wedding.
Now 7 years old, Kiyan is often seen at games and photographed with his parents. It clearly pays to have a dad like Carmelo, as last year Kiyan received a special gift from the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan. MJ gave Kiyan an exclusive pair of one-of-one GS Air Jordan XI’s, showing that being part of the Jordan family certainly has its perks. Perhaps Jordan is scouting for the Hornets.
9 He became the Knicks 2nd NBA scoring champion in 2012-13
Carmelo’s scoring antics are well documented, and he has worked tirelessly at his game to become a more complete offensive player. The 6-foot-8, 240 pound small forward has a lightning quick first step and guard like handles, allowing him to face up and take players off the dribble, but he also has one of the best post-up games in his position and has mastered the mid-range game (an area many players struggle with). He is also more than capable of knocking down 3’s both catch and shoot and off the dribble, averaging as high as 42.4% in his career.
His best scoring season came in the 2012-13 season, where Carmelo exploded for 28.7 PPG and became the NBA scoring champion ahead of Durant’s 28.1 PPG. He became just the second Knicks player to be crowned scoring champion, following Bernard King who was champ in the 1984-85 season with 32.9 PPG.
8 He is the only player to be the cover athlete for all 3 EA Sports basketball franchises
EA Sports has three highly successful basketball game series; NCAA March Madness, NBA Live and NBA Street, and with each new release (annual, apart from NBA Street) they select the best player to grace the cover of the latest edition of the game. Carmelo is the only professional athlete to be on the cover of all of these games.
He appeared on NCAA: March Madness 2004, NBA Live 2005 and NBA Street Homecourt in 2007. Appearing on the cover of NBA Live in particular is considered to be a high honour for players and prior to release it is a hot topic of conversation.
7 He has tried his hand at acting
Like many professional athletes, Carmelo has had interests and ambitions in other fields of entertainment. There have been dozens of NBA stars who have tried their hand at rapping, and most of the time this has been a complete disaster (yet often quite entertaining). Carmelo however has shown an interest in acting, and has made a few on-screen appearances which you may have caught him in.
He appeared on popular Showtime dark comedy-drama Nurse Jackie, playing a professional baseball player in rehab and appeared in 2 episodes. He also made a brief appearance in hit FX show Sons of Anarchy, playing a henchman in one of the last few episodes of the final season.
6 He was suspended for 15 games for a brawl with the Knicks in ‘06
You don’t get many brawls or fights in the NBA anymore, but back in 2006 a full on brawl broke out at MSG between Carmelo’s Nuggets and the Knicks. In a blowout for the Nuggets, J.R. Smith was on the receiving end of a hard foul to prevent an easy layup which saw the likes of Carmelo and Nate Robinson enter the fray with pushing and shoving, soon escalating to fighting that tumbled into the first row. Just as things were simmering down, Anthony floored Collins with a punch that sparked more fighting to break out all over the court. Both coaches, Karl and Thomas, also had a war of words, with Thomas feeling that Karl left his starters in the game too long in the blowout. 7 players were suspended following the ugly scenes, with Carmelo facing the longest suspension with 15 games.
Carmelo and J.R Smith would play for the Knicks just a few years later.
5 He claims to own a pet camel
Not content with a dog, cat or a nice goldfish, Carmelo has opted for one of the more interesting pet choices if this story is true. He tweeted a picture of himself next to a camel with the caption “Everybody got cats and dogs for pets, I got a camel!” This of course generates hundreds of questions such as where does he keep it, seeing as he lives in New York. Is it called Camelo? And why doesn’t he ride it to games? That would definitely cheer Knicks fans up this season.
4 This season he became the 40th member of the 20,000 point club
Knicks fans have little, okay nothing, to cheer about this season, but at least Carmelo can take some pride in becoming a member of the 20,000 point club earlier in the campaign. Any player to score this amount in their career will be remembered as a great player, and expect Carmelo to continue to climb the ladder between now and when he retires. Averaging 24 PPG this season, he has just surpassed George Gervin to become 36th on the all-time scoring list, and now (at the time of writing) sits just 39 points behind David Robinson.
Carmelo became the 40th player to join the 20,000 club with a jumpshot in a home game at MSG against the Hornets in November, becoming the sixth youngest to reach 20,000 points in the process.
3 He won all 6 Rookie of the Month Awards
There was a huge amount of buzz surrounding the 2003 class, with huge names including LeBron, Darko Milicic, Carmelo, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Chris Kamen, Kirk Hinrich, T.J. Ford, Nick Collison and Boris Diaw being just some of the quality on show that year. Carmelo had a fantastic rookie campaign with the Nuggets, averaging 21 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.8 APG and 1.2 SPG.
Carmelo was brilliant throughout, earning him the Western Conference Rookie of the Month award all six times. Unfortunately for Carmelo, LeBron also managed this in the East and it would be him that took home the Rookie of the Year award. Nevertheless, to achieve this shows how talented and consistent he was, and it is particularly impressive due to the quality in the 2003 class.
2 His career high 62 points is a Knicks record and the most scored at MSG
In one of the greatest single-effort offensive performances in recent times, Carmelo caught fire and dropped a career high 62 points against the Bobcats at Madison Square Garden in January 2014. In a breathtaking game, Carmelo had 37 in the first half before chipping in another 25 in the win where he scored from all over the floor.
62 points was good enough for a franchise record, previously held by Hall of Famer Bernard King when he scored 60 against the Nets in 1984. It also became the most scored in Madison Square Garden, a historic arena where many greats have had their best games. Knicks fans were particularly pleased to see Carmelo, one of their own, take the record, as this was previously held by Kobe Bryant who famously scored 61 at MSG in 2009.
1 He is 1 of just 3 players to play in 3 straight Olympic Games for Team USA
For any player, getting the chance to represent your country in the Olympics is a dream come true. Carmelo has had this opportunity 3 times now and this is something he takes great pride in, and it is also a testament to his talent and importance to USA basketball. In 2004 he took home a bronze medal, and in 2008 and 2012 he helped his team and country to gold. Not all players can play in international tournaments and many struggle to adjust to the style, but not Carmelo who proved his abilities on the world stage in each tournament.
He is one of just three players to play in three straight Olympic Games for team USA, the other two? Fellow 2003 classmate LeBron James and NBA legend and Hall of Famer David Robinson.