Carmelo Anthony is coming off his best NBA season: He averaged 28.2 points per game and led the Denver Nuggets to 53 wins and a Northwest Division title.
Perhaps more impressive, though, is what Melo does with his time off the court. In 2005, he established The Carmelo Anthony Foundation, which creates educational and recreational programs for underprivileged children in his hometowns of Baltimore and Denver. And on Saturday, Melo made an appearance at the Jordan Brand Breakfast Club, a 10-week series of basketball training sessions for youths in the Harlem section of New York City.
SIKIDS.com caught up with the Nuggets star during the first Jordan Brand Breakfast Club of the summer to learn more about this cause, and to hear his thoughts on the NBA (keep reading for Melo's Q&A; you can also check out video from the event on the right, and pics after the break)…
SIKIDS.com: What does it mean to you to help kick-start the Breakfast Club Series, and to teach these kids about the game of basketball?
Melo: Oh that’s the easy part. Just out here with the kids, with my trainer, giving them drills to do, giving them a chance to be out here at Rucker Park. You know, a lot of kids would love to be in this position.
SIKIDS.com: What made you take such a personal, hands-on approach when it came time to give back to the community?
Melo: You know, I always wished that somebody was there when I was growing up. To be able to come to a park and to talk to me about what [the kids] should do and what [the kids] shouldn’t do rather than them having to figure it out on their own.
SIKIDS.com: Did you have access to similar opportunities growing up in Baltimore?
Melo: No, I never did. I think a lot of things have changed since I was growing up. For an NBA star to come back to your hometown and just visit you and play with you and have fun with you wasn’t happening. It seems like it’s much easier for players to do that now.
SIKIDS.com: You had the second best season of your pro-career scoring-wise, averaging 28.2 points per game… was that something you focused on prior to the start of the season, being more assertive offensively?
Melo: It was big for me to just be in condition and stay in shape. That was the most important thing for me and everything else just fell into place.
SIKIDS.com: How important will it be to resign Kenyon Martin during free agency, and can you explain what makes him such a vital part of the team? Chauncey Billups once said it’s not about the numbers with K-Mart…
Melo: Kenyon’s a big part of our team. I think the most important thing for him is just to get healthy after his knee injury. We need him healthy next year to be successful.
SIKIDS.com: How difficult was it to play without Coach Karl, who was out receiving treatment for cancer?
Melo: Regardless of my relationship with Coach Karl, which is great, you never want to see anyone have to go through something like that. That’s more important than anything.
SIKIDS.com: You played your college ball at Syracuse University, and the Orange had a great season in 2009-10. Did you ever get a chance to talk to any of the players and give them advice throughout the season?
Melo: I stayed in contact with a couple of the guys throughout the season. Just letting them know that I’m watching, wishing I was there. When they made their run towards the end of the season I was talking to them everyday.