Numbers are iconic in sports. Kobe Bryants’ infamous 24 has become a worldwide phenomenon. Derek Jeter’s number 2 was immortalized by baseball. Lionel Messi’s number 10 is a widely recognized brand.
It’s just a number, but these numbers can become famous depending on the guy wearing them.
In the case of Carmelo Anthony, he had his eyes set on #7 when he arrived in New York. According to an ESPN article, Anthony chose No.7 because it was the date that of his son Kiyan’s birthday (March 7). Also, 22 minus 15 equals seven. It made perfect sense. The only problem? The number was already taken by Kelenna Azubuike.
Melo, being the persistent guy that he is, offered real-life money for the rights to the number. At the time, Azubike accepted, thinking that he’d be getting a check worth tens of thousands of dollars.
I’ve seen people pay people for jersey numbers, 50, 100 thousand, I’m thinking 20 racks minimum. And my boys are hyping me up and I walk in the next day and he had a check for 3,000 dollars.
“3 grand, that’s it?” 😂
Kelenna tells the story of Melo buying his jersey off him on the Knicks pic.twitter.com/mVUEl6LATm
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) December 19, 2019
Evidently, he was too afraid to ask Melo for more. So, Azubike accepted the money, Carmelo got the numbers, and the rest is history.