Melo, other NBA stars take stand on social issues

Steve Popper, USA TODAY Network
9:03 a.m. EST November 12, 2016

Carmelo Anthony recently sat down with USA TODAY Sports to speak about his continuing fight to bring social justice to America.

It was Hoops for Troops night at Madison Square Garden, and as the anthem was performed by a member of the armed forces, the New York Knicks stood at attention, some with arms slung over each others’ shoulders, as they have every game.

But Wednesday, there was something different about this time, even as the video board chronicled the Knicks’ preseason minicamp at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. It was less than 24 hours after Donald Trump gave his speech as the winner of Tuesday’s presidential election and the nerves were raw.

Carmelo Anthony has become an outspoken voice on social issues in the last year, taking a leadership position after the death of Freddie Gray in his hometown of Baltimore, then the mounting gun violence in inner cities and then the cases of violence among police in the African-American communities. But this time, his audience was his 9-year-old son, Kiyan.

He watched the election with his son, and when they woke up

Wednesday morning to the news, he had to struggle to explain.

“Now it is our responsibility as men and women to take into our hands and be role models and be our own leaders at this point regardless of who is the Commander in Chief,” Anthony said. “I think we have much more responsibility now, especially with the youth and kind of educating them.

“I talked to kids today and this morning, my family, you can just hear the nervousness, they are afraid and don’t know what to think and people don’t know what to do at this point. I think it is up to us as individuals to kind of take on that responsibility, and everybody has to lead in their own way. We can’t rely on a system or one person and we got to move on from that.”

He was hardly alone, not just among the voices who rose to question Trump’s plans, but to express fear over a step backward in progress that they had seen. The progress had come in the NBA, too, where commissioner Adam Silver has welcomed the raised voices.

The league backed up its players when they wore, “I can’t breathe” T-shirts after Eric Garner died when being subdued by police. Anthony was part of a PSA in association with the NBA against gun violence and that drew a tweet from President Obama, who noted: “I’m proud of the @NBA for taking a stand against gun violence. Sympathy for victims isn’t enough – change requires all of us speaking up.”


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