Carmelo Anthony doesn’t need to shoot his way out of this. He just needs to think about it. He’s halfway through a mid-July workout session when he catches the ball near the free-throw line, his back to the basket, dribbles once, and shakes his imaginary defender. Then he whirls, elevates, and fires a trademark fadeaway.
Except his footwork is “a little rusty,” according to his skills coach, Alex Bazzell. So “that damn move,” says Melo, will play on repeat in his mind the rest of the day. “For me, now and where I’m at in my career,” he says, “is all about the mental part.”
These days, it has to be. Because at 37 years old and after nearly two decades in the NBA, Carmelo Anthony, who’s now a Los Angeles Laker, can no longer spend his entire off-season on the hardwood. Instead, almost every day over the summer, the league’s tenth-all-time leading scorer works out for an hour, doing hoops drills, cardio work, and strength training at the gym in the LifeTime Athletic club in Manhattan’s Sky building.
It’s a focused session that frees him up to spend the rest of the day attending to other responsibilities. He’s a business mogul now, with a venture-capital firm (Melo7 Tech Partners), a production company (Creative 7), and a fashion label (StayMe7o) to run.
There’s a wine label to be announced soon, and he cofounded an online basketball-coaching platform, called Through the Lens, with Bazzell. His memoir, Where Tomorrows Aren’t Promised, is available now.And his son, 14-year-old Kiyan, begins playing high school hoops this year. “When I’m in the gym, I’m in the gym,” says Anthony. “We build my schedule, I build my business, around that. As long as I get my workout in, everything else is smooth sailing.”
Anthony knows the workout has to happen, because the past few seasons have taught him to stay in shape.When he entered the league in 2003, a heavier, slower Anthony was one of basketball’s best scorers. But he’s reinvented his game the past two years. When Covid forced the NBA to finish its season in a bubble in Orlando last summer, Anthony, then with the Portland Trail Blazers, showed up with a newly toned body, earning the nickname “Skinny Melo.” He’d shed just five pounds, he says, but it was enough to take stress off his joints and help him add quickness.
He did it by training with Bazzell and by trying new kinds of exercise. He boxed, ran sprints, did Pilates, and fell in love with cycling, both on a Peloton and on New York City streets. Hang out on Manhattan’s West Side and you may see him whiz by. “With a quick look,” he says, “you can find me.”
Anthony’s also learned that it’s not all about speed. Hoops and training may come first, but between calls and work come steady doses of mindfulness. Anthony starts each day with 30 minutes away from phones and TV, breathing and being present. And once the hoops training is done and “Business Melo” has gone to work, he’ll fit in periodic ten-minute breaks throughout the day. “To gather myself and recenter myself,” he says.
Right now, though, he’s still in game mode, finishing off the day’s battery of exercises by forcing himself to swish two straight free throws. It’s a vicious drill that “makes you focus,” he says, and after that, Bazzell bounces him a ball for a quick dunk. Then basketball is done for the day for Carmelo Anthony—except for that rusty fadeaway.
Build Court Success
Boost your hoops performance on the playground or indoors with these drills from Bazzell.
Play a friend in a game of one-on-one, with one rule adjustment: On any given possession, you can dribble only three times before you must shoot. You’ll learn to make better use of every step on the court.
Pick a spot around the free-throw line. Start working crossovers and between-the-legs and behind-the-back dribbles quickly. Have a friend yell, “Go!” Whenever that happens, you must immediately gather the ball and shoot. You’ll improve your ability to find a shooting angle instantly.
A version of this story originally appears in the October 2021 issue of Men's Health, with the title "6AM WITH...CARMELO ANTHONY".