'Melo looks past hoops to streets
The Super VIP room at Beyond is the place to be in downtown Denver on a late-fall Friday night. There's a private DJ, plenty of couch space, an open bar and an elite crowd celebrating Carmelo Anthony and the launch of his Jordan Melo 5.5. The shoe is displayed like a museum piece in an elevated glass case at the center of the darkened lounge. A-listers like Jadakiss and Kiki Vandeweghe mill around it, shooting glances at the wide-screen panels on the wall that show a commercial for 'Melo's shoe on a continuous loop.The human star of the night, though, is nowhere to be seen. He is tucked in an adjoining room, a sliver of Super VIP space beyond the dance floor. A glass wall separates Anthony and entourage from the sea of bobbing heads. As the hip-hop pounds, he props himself against the partition, brandishing a half-smoked Macanudo in his left hand. But he can't keep from leaning over the transom again and again to slap palms with the have-nots and have-somes to let them know they're not forgotten. "Yoooo, what's up!" he says, with such gusto it's as if he's trying to pull one portly soul over the wall. This is his young life: reaching over the divide. Sometimes, his golden hand finds a disenfranchised party who anyone would agree is in need. Other times, the recipient could be a rogue, even a criminal, and the unwitting gesture gets memorialized on a DVD that shuts down trials, marks Anthony as an enemy of the police and nearly gets him hauled before Congress. Carmelo Anthony isn't particularly interested in sorting the cowboys from the angels, even if, as he is told, that may stand in the way of his off-court dreams. Anthony wants to be a power broker, a tastemaker, a corporate icon. To do that, the thinking goes, he has to connect to the broadest swath of the American marketplace. He has the nickname, the smile and the game. But is that enough to make Main Street feel comfortable with a kid from the hood who is intent on maintaining street cred?
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