What will the recent arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence do to Carmelo Anthony’s reputation?
I could go back and drudge up links to old problems that Carmelo found himself in either personally or through the actions of a "friend," but what good would it do. There is no doubt in my mind that most people who hear this story have already made up their mind about not only Carmelo, but all professional athletes.
Most will shake their heads and mutter to themselves about what an idiot Melo is and how this is just another indicator of how basketball players are nothing more than millionaire hoods.
There is another group of people though. These are the people who support Melo 100% no matter what. They will make excuses for him as long as he keeps hitting shots. Their comments will be along the lines of, "He is still only 23, we were all stupid at 23" or "He will learn from this and move on." And of course my favorite, "Who hasn’t driven home drunk at one time or another?"
So the question becomes who is right? Is Carmelo Anthony just another thug with graffiti covering much of his body or is he a young man trying to do his best while struggling with pressure that neither you nor I can truly appreciate?
He is neither.
He is both.
The last time Melo found himself connected to any kind of legal trouble it was almost two years ago (July of 2006) and he was not even involved in the incident. A friend was pulled over in a car registered to Melo Enterprises and found to have had a small amount of marijuana in the car.
On the court, he has kept his nose clean since the incident in Madison Square Garden where he was more vilified for fleeing the scene of his slap at Mardy Collins more than he was for the slap itself.
Carmelo has certainly worked on his public perception, perhaps in an effort to become a better person and a role model. Perhaps it was to ensure he maximizes his marketability. Again there is probably truth in both reasons.
On the floor he has worked on his demeanor and controlling his temper. He no longer flies off the handle after getting baited by an opponent. Off the floor he has avoided any legal entanglements either by avoiding trouble or avoiding acquaintances who seem to find trouble. That is until 4:00 AM, April 14, 2008 after a win that all but sealed a playoff birth for the Denver Nuggets.
All that being said, the question remains, will this help or hurt Carmelo’s reputation? Honestly, for the two groups of people we mentioned above, it will not mean a single thing. Melo will either be vilified or exonerated.
The problem with that is this is not a friend doing something wrong or a temporary loss of reason during an on court altercation. Drunk driving is a serious offense. Friends smoking a little marijuana or basketball slap fights do not kill people. Drunk drivers have ruined thousands of lives all over the world.
Melo is a father now and he has more to worry about than what fans think or even what his teammates think. Maybe he can use the problems he has experienced to help his son, Kiyan, avoid making the same mistakes. On the other hand, maybe Kiyan will have the attitude that you did it when you were my age so let me make my own mistakes.
Either way, that is the only reputation of his that truly matters, the reputation between Carmelo and his son Kiyan. Here’s hoping that when basketball is gone and the fans have forgotten all about Carmelo Anthony’s missteps that he can look Kiyan in the eye and know that he is passing down more than a hoard of money and a comfortable living. Hopefully he will pass down a legacy of integrity and responsibility.
If Carmelo Anthony can manage that, it would be a greater accomplishment than anything he could ever do with a basketball in his hand.