ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Eleven stories above the cool and breezy East River, on the top floor of an office building on Jay Street in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood, there were palpable warm vibes. Especially when people noticed Carmelo Anthony was in the building. At an event for the Carmelo Anthony Foundation, in partnership with DJS Real Estate Development, the Knicks forward sponsored an event to kick off the Tools For Teachers initiative. School supplies were given to 128 teachers from all five boroughs, to help 138 classrooms.
I managed to slow Melo down long enough for a few questions before the event started…
ME: What inspired you to get involved helping out these teachers?
MELO: I like to give back to the nitty gritty of things. I like to give back to where the people really need it. I started redoing the basketball courts, and I’ll still do the courts, but I wanted to try something new and fresh. So I took it back to education and to the teachers. A lot of these teachers I’m helping out today are actually coming out of their own pockets for school supplies — notebooks, book bags, things like that. But nobody is helping them out. So it was easy for me to take that initiative, just to give back to them.
ME: Did you have those things when you were growing up?
MELO: Barely. I mean, I had a couple of pencils and pens here and there. But still, even when you’re in school and teachers bring stuff to the class room, you can’t really show them how much you appreciate that. So now, for me being in the situation that I’m in, nobody is really giving that appreciation back to the teachers. So this is the first thing of many things I’ll be doing for them.
ME: Who was your favorite teacher growing up?
MELO: I had an English teacher, man. My English teacher was very, very important to me when I was growing up.
MELO: Because she kept me in check, she kept me in check. She told me a lot of things. And that was one of the classes I really enjoyed going to. (laughs) Plus she was pretty, too.
ME: What was your least favorite class?
MELO: Oh, man. (long pause) Geography. At that young age you’re not really trying to figure out what’s this country, that country, what’s this city, that city. It was a lot going on. But as you get older you realize you need that.
ME: What was your favorite school supply?
MELO: My favorite school supply? The composition notebook.
ME: With the black and white cover?
MELO: The black and white cover, absolutely.
ME: Did you used to draw on the cover of your notebook?
MELO: Oh yeah, I would draw on everything. I had my colored pencils, I would draw on everything.
ME: Did you write stuff on your backpack?
MELO: I used to carry my books in my hand. I couldn’t get a backpack. I put my books in plastic bags and stuff like that.
ME: Why no backpack?
MELO: We couldn’t afford a backpack. It was either the books or the backpack.
ME: Been a long preseason. Are you ready for the season to start?
MELO: We’re ready to get going, man. We have one more preseason game here tomorrow on our own home court. This is our first time playing in the Garden this whole preseason, so we’re excited about that. To see the new Garden, we’re excited about that. The energy that’s surrounding us right now, we can’t wait.
ME: Can the Knicks win more games than you did last season? 54 is a lot of wins.
MELO: Yeah, 54 is a lot of games, man. It’s kind of hard to say — we haven’t really got it going yet, or anything like that. I try not to compare this season to last season. We’re going to take it one day at a time and go from there.