For those of us getting a bit long in the tooth — guilty as charged — it seems practically an eternity ago that the Jordan Brand shocked the sneaker world by signing a precocious teenager named Carmelo Anthony to be a cornerstone and an ambassador.
Though Anthony was fresh off leading Syracuse to a National Title as a freshman, it nonetheless seemed a bit of a leap of faith, much as it was for Nike to simultaneously sign LeBron James out of high school. This, after all, was no fledgling brand, and with Michael Jordan wrapping up a career that many consider the greatest of all time, this seemed to equate to a passing of the torch. Was Carmelo up to the task? Would anyone be?
Seven All-Star Games, a scoring title and 11 sneakers later, it has become obvious Anthony — who grew up favoring the Air Jordan 9, which he wore both in high school and college — was a perfect selection to grow along with Jordan’s sneaker powerhouse.
Continuing a partnership that has entered into its second decade, Jordan Brand officially unveiled the M11 on Monday night down the street from Madison Square Garden at Terminal 23, the ornate ballroom-style court that bears Anthony’s logo.
Make no mistake, the shoe lives up to the superstar who will wear it. With apologies to the Jordan Melo 1.5, the M11 is the cleanest Melo sneaker to date. It’s certain to be a star on the court as well, given it features the revolutionary Flight Plate cushioning system carried over from the M10.
The M11 is a fitting evolution for a player who has matured into an elder statesman of an ever-growing team that includes some of the finest talent in basketball. As Anthony attempts to cement his legacy by bringing the Knicks back to prominence, it’s obvious he’ll have the finest footwear his talents can demand.
“I’ve seen the brand go from here to here, just as far as the direction it’s trying to go, different players coming in and out, being in meetings day in and day out trying to figure out what’s the next thing,” Anthony told The Daily Street two years ago. “‘How can we engage the consumers out there? How can we put out the best product?’
“That’s a blessing for me, to just be a part of brand Jordan. To have my own brand under the Michael Jordan brand, you can’t explain that.”
As it’s turned out, Anthony’s past decade has done a pretty good job of explaining that for him.