LAS VEGAS — Carmelo Anthony wasn’t supposed to be at the ESPYs last week, but his Instagram post urging athletes to take action and demand change amid the growing violence in this country earned him an invite.
Anthony joined his closest NBA friends, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, in opening the show by calling for change. Anthony said he will continue to be outspoken and take part in more public pleas for peace.
The Knicks’ All-Star forward is the elder statesman on the U.S. Olympic team, which began training camp in Las Vegas on Monday. The team will practice and play in several other cities before the Rio Olympics, and the players have planned a show of unity when they’re in Los Angeles.
“We’re going to try to get the guys in L.A. to host a town hall for people in the community because at the end of the day, what I put out there on Instagram and what we did for the ESPYs, it sparked something,” Anthony said. “So we have to follow through and make sure that everybody is following through.”
Anthony’s Instagram post, which included the phrase “The System is Broken,” came after a police officer shot a man during a traffic stop in Minnesota and the deadly shootings of five police officers in Dallas last week.
Anthony said he was home watching the news reports and thought, “Enough is enough.” He said he woke up in the middle of the night and “just started typing and typing.”
Three police officers were shot and killed in Baton Rouge over the weekend.
“It’s unfortunate,” Anthony said. “It’s sad. I really can’t put it into words as far as what’s going on throughout the whole country, throughout the whole world. It’s like everything is happening at once. For us as a country, we got to stand united. We got to stand together. It shouldn’t be us against them. It should be about all of us.”
Anthony, who joined protesters and marched in Baltimore last year after Freddie Gray died while in police custody, said he doesn’t have a solution. But he believes everyone should take action to try to put a stop to the killing and violence.
“I had a lot of very important people reach out to me, want to do something, seeing how they can help, how they can step up,” Anthony said. “For me, it was about just getting everybody, not just athletes, but just get people talking to the right people, talking to the community, have a voice for the community because they need it.”
Anthony has matured since being featured in a video 12 years ago titled “Stop Snitching” in which alleged drug dealers talk about what happens to people who cooperate with the police.
“I look back at those moments, I can fortunately enough, I can sit back and laugh at those situations because it made me grown up as a person and as a man,” Anthony said. “It made me grow up and realize . . . I was an individual, how powerful my voice and presence is. It is something I didn’t know at 19, 20, 21 years old. You just don’t know those things. You’re going through life like nothing can affect you.
“As you get older, the plan is to grow and mature. For me, it was a matter of being knowledgeable and having the wisdom and understanding my situation of where I’m at, being a professional athlete and what comes along with that.”