By Howard Bryant
IN A NORMAL time, it would be implausible to sit down with Carmelo Anthony two weeks before the start of the NBA season and not talk about basketball-to not hear a word about his Knicks, his Olympic gold in Rio or his new All-Star teammates. But this isn’t just any time in America. Since the early summer, when six police officers were acquitted in Anthony’s hometown of Baltimore after facing charges resulting from the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray, basketball for the Knicks’ franchise player has become secondary to being an active, involved citizen, one aware of his power and influence-and often the limitations of each. We spent a recent afternoon together in New York talking as black citizens and parents, debating race and policing, owners and players, and the increasing politicization of sports in a tense, post-Ferguson nation. For Anthony, there is no more holding back.
HOWARD BRYANT: It sounds like there’s a sort of tipping point that’s happening around the country. When I talk to younger people, they have this attitude like, “We’re supposed to be past this. This is why I’m upset.” And then I talk to my uncles and they’re like, “See, this is how it is. This is nothing new.”
CARMELO ANTHONY: This is the new ’60s right here. Everybody I talk to, my mom and uncles and friends, they say the same thing. They’re like, “What you’re seeing right now, we’d seen it already. It’s new to you, but it’s not new to us.” I think it’s bigger and much deeper than just actually seeing what’s happening out there. Not just police brutality but so many other issues out there that are being swept under the rug. Our educational system is messed up. Schools are closing left and right.
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