This month the Rockets begin their quest to win a third NBA championship, and they’ll do so with a new recruit, 34-year-old forward Carmelo Anthony, helping lead the way alongside James Harden and Chris Paul. The star, who signed on with the team in August, is a popular target for criticism. Fans and sports writers alike claim he’s slow, hogs the ball, and doesn’t play defense. Still, we Houstonians have plenty of reasons to welcome Melo with open arms. Here are a few of them:
Melo gets buckets
He’s ranked 22nd in the NBA for most points scored over his entire career, and he may pass Tim Duncan this year.
Melo is like us
He’s into branding himself on Instagram. His favorite hashtag, #STAYME7O, indicates he uses “7” in place of “L,” but in a 2017 post thanking Knicks fans, he wrote “7eace be with you.” Brand inconsistency is #relatable.
Melo has turtle power
In 2016 he designed a line of boys’ activewear based on the hit 1980s cartoon series. He also appeared in the 2016 movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2.
Melo is Mr. America
Who needs an NBA title when you’ve won three Olympic gold medals as a member of the U.S. men’s basketball team? When America calls, Melo answers.
Melo gives back
Through his work with the Carmelo Anthony Foundation, he raised over $450,000 for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, even personally delivering supplies; he sent aid in the form of water and organic food to Flint, Michigan; and each year he hosts A Very Melo Christmas, a film screening with free gifts for middle-schoolers.
Melo is, in some ways, the ultimate underdog
He’s been unfairly compared to LeBron James—arguably, the GOAT—since being drafted behind him in 2003. He’s been kicked around, taunted by fans, and subjected to constant attacks from talking heads, despite the fact that he’s made the playoffs 11 times in 16 years while playing for not-great teams. Can’t you just see him getting revenge by helping us win an NBA title? We say, welcome to town.