2020 NBA Draft Lottery: Destiny In The Making For Cole Anthony?
The NBA’s virtual Draft Lottery show was held last night and the Minnesota Timberwolves grabbed the No. 1 pick in the 2020 Draft and will decide if they want to add Anthony Edwards, Melo Ball or James Wiseman as another franchise cornerstone piece.
By dropping to the 8th pick of the draft, the consensus opinion among Knicks fans is that they were cursed again. However, if you look a bit deeper at the Draft and all it has to offer, New York may have finally lucked into a franchise-changing opportunity to Draft hometown baller Cole Anthony.
From Little Ballers To Big Ballin’
We were first introduced to Cole Anthony’s basketball wizardry and his mother Crystal McCrary-McGuire’s business savvy when he appeared on Little Ballers, a two-hour sports documentary exploring the journey of some 11-year-old basketball players from New York and their quest to win an AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) National Championship. The show aired during the weekly NickSports programming block on Nicktoons.
It documented the New Heights AAU program, coached by Billy Council.
Cole’s mom was the brains behind the documentary and played the role of team mom during the squad’s run to the Nationals. Her connections to the TV world and a desire to promote positive Black imagery in reality television, allowed her an opportunistic lane to create the idea, pitch it, and direct the film.
It’s a story about how basketball can spark a kid’s competitive instinct, has educational value in developing life-long friendships and building character.
McCrary, 48, has an impressive resume as a lawyer and author, and in 2007 was chosen as one of Crain’s New York Business‘ 40 under 40. She’s even co-hosted The View.
Her arms extend beyond law and television. She was able to secure former NBA player Amare Stoudemire and rapper Lupe Fiasco as executive producers for Little Ballers which was the first original documentary to join NickSports, a lineup of sports-themed content including series, specials and documentaries from professional leagues and key athletes.
It also shows you how solid Cole’s foundation was and how his dreams were supported from the beginning by a strong mother who led by example from sunup to sunset.
When Cole announced his decision to attend UNC, in an ESPN interview with his parents, his mother, Crystal spoke passionately and informatively about the lure of UNC‘s history and the iconic coaching staff with Roy Williams and Hubert Davis, and most importantly, the UNC fans.
Mama Is A Shot Caller
McGuire, formerly Crystal McCrary-Anthony, is often referenced as Greg Anthony’s (ex) wife, especially when the conversation involves their son Cole. Cole has always equally respected his parents’ influence on his life, but his mother, who remarried Ray McGuire (Head of Global Banking at Citigroup, Inc.) years ago, has been the driving force, raising Cole while carving out an impressive career for herself.
She’s savvy, principled, respectful of her brand, and as a former basketball wife, has very strong opinions on society and how women should represent themselves.
Cole Anthony would never be so foolish as to minimize the capabilities, strength, leadership and executive wherewithal of a Black woman — single, divorced or otherwise.
McCrary is a former lawyer, co-creator of BET’s show Leading Women and the author of the novels “Gotham Diaries” and “Homecourt Advantage”.
She wrote Homecourt Advantage with Patrick Ewing’s ex-wife and co-wrote Gotham Diaries in 2004 with Tonya Lewis Lee, the wife of filmmaker Spike Lee. That book won her the Blackboard Fiction Book of the Year. She is also a frequent morning show commentator and sits on the advisory board of Jumpstart.
McCray’s busy resume also includes a legal analyst for Fox News Channel, CNBC and Court TV, a commentator for CNN’s American Morning, and partnering with BET J network on various projects.
Cole’s mother is the shining example of a Black woman raising her children, dealing with the challenges of marriage and divorce while also performing superhuman feats in business. The effortlessness with which she’s handled her multifaceted workload and the successful manner in which she has guided, promoted, and enhanced her son’s pro basketball journey can’t be overstated.
Happy New Year from my family to yours! May kindness, integrity, honesty and compassion fill everyone’s heart. #2020 pic.twitter.com/u5I8FGhSA2
— Crystal McCrary McGuire (@CrystalMcCrary) January 1, 2020
While Cole’s pedigree as a supreme hooper brings attention to his father’s NBA career, the bravery, brilliance and boldness of his mother is embedded in his solid character, competitive fire, and ambitious nature.
McCrary attended University of Michigan and earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1991, the same year Greg Anthony was a first-round draft pick out of Jerry Tarkanian’s legendary UNLV program by the Knicks.
After attending American University in Washington, D.C., she moved to New York City to attend the New York University School of Law, completing her degree in 1995.
She also studied international law at Tulane University and European Community law in Paris.
McCrary began her career as an associate in the New York firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. There she practiced entertainment law, representing authors, playwrights, and directors in their contract negotiations.
In 1997 she quit her job as an attorney to focus on writing. Entrepreneurship flexibility is an essential factor for the “high achievers”, who are strongly career-oriented but don’t want to take time away from their family
McCrary perfected this difficult balancing act with Cole and his sister Ella.
The Chosen One
For the past two decades, basketball purists have lamented about the dearth of elite NYC Point GOD’s and the increasing lack of respect for Big Apple hoopers. But little did they know that a former Knicks point guard named Greg Anthony had already planted a seed that would eventually save the city and put some speck’ on the name of NYC hoops.
Something special was cooking in the schoolyards and AAU tourneys during those Dark Ages and many believed that Cole Anthony — straight from Manhattan’s Upper West Side — was the latest and truest city product to be crowned “The Chosen One.”
He came out of the gate killing at UNC, setting a school record for scoring by a freshman in his debut, finishing with 34 points and 11 boards.
Making Lemonade Out of Rotten Apples
Cole was living up to the expectations, averaging 19.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.9 steals across nine games before he partially tore his meniscus in his right knee — every one-and-done player’s worst nightmare.
Anthony would go from a front runner for the Naismith POY award to missing 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery and hearing criticisms and questions about his ability to star on the next level. Being the competitor he is, Anthony returned on Feb. 1, 2020 and scored 26 points in his first game since Dec. 16 of 2019.
Most scouts and Draft analysts say Anthony played well enough the remainder of the season to solidify himself a Top 10 spot in the 2020 NBA Draft.
If the Knicks take a flyer on a hometown hero, it could become the classic saga of turning tragedy to triumph for both Cole and the Knicks.
Almost certainly, the dejection that Cole felt when he saw his chances of being a Top 5 pick vanish with his injury, UNC’s disappointing season and the cancellation of March Madness due to COVID-19, has turned to optimism.
Fans wouldn’t mind seeing a homegrown product play for the same legendary franchise that helped boost his father to celebrity status as a guard back in the Knicks “Golden Era” 90s. Mama Crystal would probably love nothing more than for her baby boy to stay home and help rebuild Madison Square Garden.
She’s probably already considering the marketing possibilities, the cultural impact and the morale boost that the prodigal son of a devalued New York City hoops pipeline could provide the city.