Little did he know that night was the start of something bigger than he could have possibly imagined.
“You got Sam Cassell, all these guys out there,” Anthony said in front of a mural-sized map of Baltimore at Terminal 23 in New York City on Monday night. “I was like, ‘I’m playing! I need that!’
“I was 15, I held my own, and the rest was history. I think the experience of going over to Madison Dome that day really changed my life.”
[RELATED: Nike introduces the Jordan Melo M11]
All these years later, Anthony is arguably the most significant athlete in the media capital of the world, which has led to both fanfare and intense scrutiny.
But for at least one night, it wasn’t about where he’s going, but rather where he’s been. To celebrate the launch of his new Air Jordan signature sneaker, the M11, Carmelo walked a group of invited media on a detailed tour of his personal history, with exhibits set up representing each of the cities that helped shape him on and off the court.
According to Anthony, the walk-through was missing just one thing:
“I was going to give out those headphones,” he joked, “like at the Louvre.”
Clearly in his element, Carmelo vividly described growing up at the Murphy Homes projects in West Baltimore: Holding his own at Cloverdale courts at 10 years old, watching HBO film episodes of The Wire while walking to school and — in a bit of foreshadowing — copping Air Jordans on Saturday mornings at Mondawmin Mall.
Life in Baltimore was daunting, and Carmelo witnessed a lot of things he declined to revisit. But the experience toughened him into an indomitable player, and it only made him hungrier to succeed. Anthony’s talents brought him to Oak Hill Academy for his senior year, during which they went 32-1. He continued his whirlwind ascent at Syracuse, where he famously led the Orange to a National Title as a freshman, before entering the NBA Draft and going third to Denver.