Every aspiring basketball player has their heroes, those athletes whose remarkable skills and indomitable spirit inspire them to chase their dreams. For Paolo Banchero, a rising star in the basketball world, his childhood idols were none other than LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. In an exclusive conversation with Michael Rainey Jr. and Gianni Paolo on the Crew Has It, Banchero opened up about the profound impact LeBron and Melo had on his life and career.
Growing up, Paolo Banchero had a deep admiration for Carmelo Anthony, often referring to him as “Melo.” He saw Anthony as a basketball superhero and a source of inspiration. Banchero recounted a poignant moment at Anthony’s retirement party in Puerto Rico, saying, “I had to give him his flowers because me and him are locked in. We’ve known each other for a minute now. But it was his retirement party, and Jadakiss performed there.”
Banchero’s appreciation for Carmelo Anthony extended far beyond their personal connection. It was a lifelong admiration that went back to his childhood. “My whole life, he was the reason I wanted to get tattoos. I wear a headband like Melo,” he explained, highlighting the deep influence Anthony had on his style and approach to the game.
One aspect of Carmelo Anthony’s game that particularly resonated with Banchero was his shooting technique. He reminisced about how Melo used to release the ball, saying, “The way he shot that ball, it was like Houston, right? He used to pull his hands back all quick. Like, I used to do that.”
In addition to Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James held a special place in Paolo Banchero’s heart. He described LeBron as one of his all-time favorite players and recalled the awe-inspiring effect James had on him. “Bron was up there for me too. Him and Melo were my favorite players,” Banchero said with enthusiasm.
For Banchero, the experience of playing against LeBron James was a dream come true. He vividly remembered when LeBron came to Seattle to play in the Pro-Am, providing a unique opportunity to witness the NBA legend up close. “Seeing him up close was dope too. I never got to play with Melo; he retired before I got to get on the court with him. But LeBron is like, that shit’s crazy, bro,” Banchero remarked, highlighting the profound impact of sharing the court with his childhood idol.
Paolo Banchero’s journey from idolizing Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James to sharing the court with the latter demonstrates the power of inspiration in the world of sports. These two basketball icons not only shaped Banchero’s playing style but also instilled in him a deep love for the game. Banchero’s story is a reminder that heroes can become peers, and dreams can become reality for those who are dedicated and passionate about their craft.
As Banchero continues to ascend in his basketball career, he carries the lessons and inspiration he received from LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, serving as a testament to the enduring impact that sports heroes can have on the lives and aspirations of young athletes.