The Atlanta Hawks just created the ultimate collector’s item.
The team, which came to terms on a $25.5 million buyout with Carmelo Anthony five days after acquiring him from the Oklahoma City Thunder, tweeted out a photo of the never-worn jersey they’re sending to the 10-time All-Star in response to a request he made last month.
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) August 9, 2018
Anthony’s longtime friend and frequent USA Basketball teammate LeBron James used the occasion to congratulate Anthony on his … “memorable” time in Atlanta.
??????????? Helleva run in the A my brother @carmeloanthony! ??♂️??
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 9, 2018
Though it’ll likely never hang in the rafters at Philips Arena, Anthony’s Hawks jersey will almost certainly become an instant favorite among Las Vegas Summer League denizens and Coachella attendees, joining the likes of Andrew Wiggins’ Cleveland Cavaliers jersey, Andrew Bynum’s Philadelphia 76ers jersey and — also from this summer — Dwight Howard’s Brooklyn Nets jersey.
Of course, the Hawks could form a formidable lineup of players who were on their roster but never wore their jersey in a game, from veteran buyouts such as Gary Payton and Antawn Jamison to selections traded on draft day such as Pau Gasol and Luka Doncic. That doesn’t even include Hall of Famer Julius Erving, who did, in fact, play for Atlanta in the preseason but was forced back to the ABA by contractual issues.
It also remains to be seen if Melo’s one-of-a-kind jersey becomes as popular among NBA hipsters as the current gold standard of obscure Hawks jerseys: Rasheed Wallace. The former NBA champion suited up for exactly one game for the Hawks, scoring 20 points in his only appearance in the 10 days between being acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers and being traded to the Detroit Pistons.