Michael Strahan and Carmelo Anthony Sound Off on Basketball and Business

New York's sports superstars talk about family, fame and building their mega brands

On a sultry September afternoon, a stream of stylists, photographers, TV cameramen, publicists and editors converge at the gymnasium in New York’s 14th Street Y to capture a moment in time: the bringing together of two of the city’s greatest sports heroes under one roof. Entering first is Michael Strahan, co-host of Good Morning America and Live! With Kelly and Michael and a professional football Hall of Famer following 15 phenomenal seasons as sack king of the New York Giants. Like the charismatic morning show host he is, Strahan lights up the room, encouraging everyone around him to pick up a basketball and shoot hoops. Amid the hubbub, a dapper, low-key Carmelo Anthony, scoring machine for the New York Knicks, quietly slips in.

Photo: Miller Mobley; Styling, Strahan: Victoria Trilling; Styling,

Anthony: Khalilah Beavers; Makeup, Strahan: Lisa Hayes

It’s game time.

The two superstars—and cover subjects of Adweek’s annual Men’s Issue—are role models to millions and the embodiment of the modern man. Both have full lives that extend beyond their sports personas. Strahan was born in Houston and raised on a U.S. Army base in Germany; he moved back home to play high school then college football for Texas Southern University. Since retiring from the NFL in 2008, he has served as a Fox NFL Sunday analyst. At 42, Strahan also has his hands full as a partner of SMAC Entertainment, a talent management company focusing on entertainment and sports, as well as an investor in athletic shoes and apparel company Asics and a spokesman for Meta, a new line of wellness products. He is also the father of four.

Anthony, 30, who in July re-upped with the Knicks to be their centerpiece for another five years and a reported $124 million, has had a similarly meteoric rise. But his journey could easily have taken another route. Born in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., his father died when he was just 2 years old. Six years later, the family would move to the mean streets of West Baltimore. There, Anthony stayed out of trouble, played ball, won the NCAA national championship for Syracuse, then, in 2003, signed with the Denver Nuggets. It was Anthony’s decision to join his hometown team the Knicks in 2011 that ignited the media frenzy that now follows his every move.

It’s been a whirlwind. Married to reality TV star La La Anthony and father of a 7-year-old son, Anthony’s passions range from collecting art to fine wine. He is also a major gadget guy. Those interests spawned his new venture capital firm, Melo7 Tech Partners, which he co-founded with former NBC and Bertelsmann exec Stuart Goldfarb. Already, Melo7 has seeded a slew of early-stage startups, including smart-kitchen company The Orange Chef, a storytelling app for kids called Hullabalu, the sports and entertainment ticket search engine SeatGeek, and the voice-messaging startup Cord Project. Anthony also has endorsement deals that include Foot Locker and Isotonix, and has his own signature Jordan Brand sneaker, Melo 10, to boot.

Let’s listen in.

Photo: Miller Mobley; Styling, Strahan: Victoria Trilling; Styling,

Anthony: Khalilah Beavers; Makeup, Strahan: Lisa Hayes

Strahan: You signed a new five-year contract with the Knicks, about which I have two questions for you. One, does that put any more pressure on you as a player? And two, can I get a loan?

Carmelo Anthony: [laughs]

Strahan: Which part are you laughing at? The first part of the question or the loan part?

Anthony: The second part.

Strahan: OK, so that means no.

Anthony: When I get it.

Strahan: When you get it. OK. Alright.

Anthony: You’ll receive it.

Strahan: I’m patient.

Anthony: All right.

Strahan: Alright, I like a man who’s willing to discuss things and work through problems and issues. But do you think it puts more pressure on you, undue pressure, because you’re already under a lot of pressure playing in New York.

Anthony: I think it adds more pressure if you allow it to. … For me, I think I thrive on the pressure. I welcome the pressure. I live for it. 

Strahan: [On being a pro athlete in New York] Not only on the court, but off the court, you’re the leader. Everything you do is more scrutinized. You have to be more careful than anybody else. And watching LeBron [James] go back to Cleveland, did that affect your decision on staying in New York, and did you learn anything from watching LeBron go back home?

Anthony: No. Honestly, I think it was the other way around. I think he saw when I came back home to New York and saw the response and saw the reaction and saw how at peace I was when I came back home. … I’m pretty sure he looked at that moment and saw that that was a very special moment, and he had the opportunity to go back home himself and regain that love.

Photo: Miller Mobley; Styling, Strahan: Victoria Trilling; Styling,