"If we allow basketball to define who we are, then we're nothing."
On a sunny day back in 2015, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul boarded a bright yellow, inflatable banana boat while on vacation - and the "Banana Boat Crew" was born. Carmelo Anthony, while not featured in that now iconic photograph, completes the band of brothers and the bond that they've forged over the years runs much deeper than the sport that brought them all together.
The Athletic recently chopped it up with both LeBron and Carmelo ahead of Friday night's showdown in Portland, as they discussed their connection to one another and their goals of creating a legacy that transcends their accomplishments on the basketball court.
Says LeBron, "Our relationship, me and Melo, D-Wade and CP, we don't talk about basketball. We talk about life and how we can change the world and change the people around us." He adds, "If we allow basketball to define who we are, then we're nothing."
Carmelo, who was selected just two picks after LeBron in the 2003 NBA Draft, knows that he and the four-time NBA MVP will always have a link between them.
"We came in together," Anthony said, per The Athletic. "Some way, some how we will always be connected."
Adds James, "When you have a connection with somebody, you can't explain it. We have no idea. I can say that we both come from single-parent high schools, inner city, everybody looking at us as being that one from our inner city to uplift everybody else, so that right there we have something in common."
Tonight's game between the Lakers (19-3) and Blazers (9-13) is scheduled to tipoff at 10:30pm ET. You can catch the action on ESPN.