Carmelo Anthony Details Being Selected by Michael Jordan as Jordan Brand Athlete

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2020

Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony reacts after making a shot during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, March 10, 2020. The Blazers won 121-105. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)
Steve Dykes/Associated Press

For nearly the first two decades of the Jordan Brand, there was one and only face: Michael Jordan. No other athletes represented the brand, and not only that, Jordan wanted no one else representing him as the apparel line's public face. 

That all changed in 2003, as MJ's third retirement led to Carmelo Anthony being named the first other player signed to the Jordan brand. Melo recalled how he was chosen on UNINTERRUPTED's WRTS: After Party series (24:50 mark):

"I was the first signature athlete at the brand. ... There wasn't a plan at that point in time. LeBron was at Nike, and MJ stepped up and said, 'Look, I'll pay half. Nike pay half. I'll take Melo, y'all got LeBron, Converse got D-Wade and Bosh, and they had a crew over there at Converse.

"My first sneaker I ever played with in Jordans was like 16.5s or some s--t like that. I remember playing in my first game as a rookie in preseason, and the sneaker came off as I was playing. I was like, you know what, I'm not playing in another retro again. Let's work on this signature shoe, and that's how everything started."

Jordan released 13 signature shoes for Melo before discontinuing the line in 2017. He's remained part of the brand as a spokesperson and instead wears a variety of releases from Jordan on the court.

Even after signing Anthony, Jordan has been highly selective with the athletes it gives signature shoes or adds to its roster. There are currently only 21 NBA players signed to Jordan, highlighted by Zion Williamson, Chris Paul and Luka Doncic. Williamson and Doncic are being viewed as the future faces of the company—not unlike what Anthony was in 2003.