Carmelo Anthony

*In his interview with ESPN Magazine, New York Knicks baller Carmelo Anthony channels the Black Panthers for his cover photo, and talks about how the Freddie Gray police killing in his hometown of Baltimore inspired him speak up about social injustice.

“But when it’s powerful, timing is everything, and for me the Freddie Gray thing was the one that tipped me off. It was like something just exploded. It was like [snaps] now was the time. Enough is enough,” Anthony tells the publication.

He added “And everybody’s calling me like, ‘We should do this’ or ‘We should do that,’ and I was like, ‘I’m going home.’ If you want to come with me, you come with me, but I’m going home. I’m not calling reporters and getting on the news; I’m actually going there. I wanted to feel that. I wanted to feel that pain. I wanted to feel that tension.”

The NBA star goes on to talk about America’s broken police and educational systems.

“The system is broken,” he said. “It trickles down. It’s the education. You’ve got to be educated to know how to deal with police. The police have to be educated on how to deal with people. The system has to put the right police in the right situations. Like, you can’t put white police in the ‘hood. You just can’t do that. They don’t know how to react. They don’t know how to respond to those different situations.”

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Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo also revealed a few details about the conversation he had with NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick the night after he initiated his national anthem protest.

“I spoke to him that night,” he said. “He reached out to me that night. And I’m watching and I’m like, ‘OK.’ Like, ‘What’s next?’ In a very respectful way, he was like, ‘I took this step and, you know, just wanted to get your thoughts on what’s happening.’ And I said, ‘Well, you’re courageous.’ I said, ‘You just showed a lot of courage in what you just did, but now is the hard part because you have to keep it going. So if that was just a one-time thing, then you’re f*cked. But now you keep it going and be articulate and elaborate on why you’re doing it, and be educated and knowledgeable of why you’re doing it so when people ask, you can stand up for what you believe in and really let them hear why.’”

How does being called unpatriotic affect him?

“I mean, you hear it. I just think that’s bullshit for somebody to call me unpatriotic. That’s totally bullshit. I’ve committed to this country on many different levels. Committing to USA Basketball since I was 19 years old, playing in four Olympics, going to the different parts of the world. Where they were warring, you know? Traveling to Turkey where they were bombing the building three doors down from us. Going to the games where they’ve got “Down with the USA” signs out there.”

Anthony also weighs in on the idea of black players forming their own league and leaving the NBA.

“I think the resources are there. I think we’re powerful enough. I can only speak for basketball players. We’re powerful enough to, if we wanted to, create our own league. But everybody would have to be willing to do that. You have to be willing to say, ‘This is what I’m going to do. I’m supporting this right here.’ Because at the end of the day, the athletes are the league. Without the athletes, there’s no league. Without us, there’s no them. And they don’t think like that. They say, “We’re your main source of income, so you’re going to need me before I need you.” I think you just have to be willing to do that. You have to be willing to make that move, and, you know, strength comes in numbers. If you don’t have those numbers, it’s not going to work. “The people in the position of power understand now more than ever that some of the athletes are just as powerful as them. And that’s the scary part. To know that, ‘Somebody I’m paying, you know, is just as powerful as me. We don’t want that.'”

You can check out Anthony’s full interview here.