NBA star Carmelo Anthony appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Wednesday night to promote his new book, Where Tomorrows Aren’t Promised: A Memoir of Survival and Hope, finding a balance between basketball and life (or “finding peace,” as he puts it), and joining a Los Angeles Lakers team that added several aging veterans aiming for a championship run.
Anthony explained that he wanted to write an autobiography because he believed that fans knew about the sports side, the business side of his story, but not what happened in his life to get to the NBA.
“They don’t know what I had to go through, and endure and deal with and see and hear before that,” Anthony told Noah. “We talk about The 10,000-Hour Rule; I’ve been doing that. I put my 10,000 hours in, probably a little bit more to get to that point. So by the time I shook David Stern’s hand, that’s the story I wanted to tell.”
Here’s the complete interview from The Daily Show — which just returned to studio production, by the way:
Perhaps the most compelling part of Anthony’s conversation with Noah looked back at his childhood days. “Melo” is one of the few NBA players recognizable by just one name. But as a kid, “Carmelo Anthony” was a name that made him stand out while he just wanted to fit in.
“I didn’t understand my name,” said Anthony. “I came from Brooklyn and Red Hook, where it was predominantly Black, Puerto Rican, Italians was in the back, Irish was in the back. So we were very diverse. We go to Baltimore, it’s all Black. So to hear a name like ‘Carmelo,’ they’re not going to understand what that really is. They’re gonna butcher my name. ‘Caramelo.’ ‘Caramel.’ Whatever they’re gonna do, they’re gonna butcher the name.
“So the teacher comes around, she passes out index cards, you gotta put your name on there for the first day of school. Somebody else’s name was on the board from the previous class. I just looked up and was like, ‘My name is… Tyrone Johnson.’ I took ‘Tyrone’ and then added ‘Johnson’ because that was a common name.”
After leading Syracuse to an NCAA championship during his freshman season, Anthony was drafted No. 3 overall by the Denver Nuggets in 2003 after LeBron James and Darko Milicic. Traded to the New York Knicks following eight standout seasons in Denver, he was expected to be the star that brought an elusive NBA title to Madison Square Garden. Of course, that Knicks run didn’t have the happy ending many envisioned.
During the past four seasons, Anthony has become something of a journeyman during the past four seasons, playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, and Portland Trail Blazers, and will likely finish his career with the Lakers.
“There’s nothing that I’m trying to prove,” said Anthony, 37. “If I wouldn’t have picked L.A., I’d have been at peace walking away from the game, knowing that I gave it everything I could and I still couldn’t win a championship. I’d have been good. But now that I’m with the Lakers, I can’t be at peace with not winning a championship.”
Anthony is the latest NBA player and professional athlete among many Noah has recently invited to The Daily Show to talk about their upbringing, social issues, and mental health. Guests include Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, and Doc Rivers.