Carmelo Anthony is so Puerto Rican he’s been going “all the way up” with Fat Joe for years. He’s so Puerto Rock his late father, Carmelo Iriarte, was a Young Lord. He’s so damn Boricua that he will serve as king of the Puerto Rican Day Parade this Sunday in NYC. After this week, no one should ever be surprised to find out the New York Knicks superstar is both Puerto Rican and African American and extremely proud.
With that said, the following interview is perhaps the most Latino interview, Anthony has ever done. And it’s glorious. Cue the Fania music!
Congrats on being the king of this year’s Puerto Rican Day Parade! What are you looking forward to the most? How many times have you attended over the years?
I’ve been to the parade maybe twice or three times over the past 12 years but I’ve never been in the parade in the major part. You know the major part is always in the beginning and as the night gets on that’s when all the chaos starts happening. I was a part of the chaos for a couple years. [Laughs] This is just different being the king of the parade now.
A lot of people weren’t aware that you were half Puerto Rican, perhaps, because they have this stereotypical image of how Latinos look like and don’t recognize that we’re extremely diverse. Did that drive you to make it well known that you’re both Latino and African American and proud?
For me it was more like that’s a part of me that’s who I am whether people know it or not that’s just who I am—that was my mentality. Growing up that was my mentality but then over the past couple years I was like, Okay I have the opportunity to not only embrace it but kind of be a face [for our people]. We don’t have that many faces within our culture that’s stepping out saying, I am who I am and I’m here to help in any way possible. That’s where I’m at now.
Last time we spoke, you were working on a documentary on your late father, Looking for a Lord, which focused on him and his involvement with the revolutionary Puerto Rican group, The Young Lords. Any update?
No, there is no update with that. You gotta to be real sensitive with that information. It’s gonna take some time because I want to do it right. This is the first story about the Young Lords since the ‘60s, ‘70s. You want to do it right you and find the people that are still alive who were a part of it. You need to get the interviews, the different ways we want to shoot the stories, etc. The movement was so powerful that you want to be careful with the way you put it out there.
Has Puerto Rico’s financial crisis affected your charitable efforts on the isle?
It doesn’t effect what I do. I don’t do it for financial reasons; I do it for the love. I do it for my heart; I do it for the people so it doesn’t affect it. My soccer team is there and it’s bringing a lot of excitement to kids, parents and families across the whole island in the midst of the crisis. Even though there is a crisis going on down there there’s still a love, there’s still a pride that we have. Also I’m glad they continued to go along with the parade; there was no reason we shouldn’t have a parade even with everything that’s going on down there.
Speaking of your fútbol team, Puerto Rico FC, why did you decide to own a soccer team as opposed to a basketball one?
Well, the basketball thing would have been too typical for me to do. But soccer was a way I can kind of implement something new into the culture and shift the culture a little bit down there with baseball being the main sport amongst Puerto Ricans. But baseball is slowly dying as far as kids watching it and participating in it. And soccer is the fastest growing sport in the world; it’s a world sport. So why not bring something that the world is looking at and bring more recognition from a worldly perspective to our island and to our people?
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