Carmelo Anthony etched his name into Syracuse basketball history when he led the program to a National Title during the 2002-03 campaign. However, fans may not know what led the 10-time NBA All-Star to play for the Orange in the first place.

NBA veteran Rudy Gay revealed that Anthony may have joined Jim Boeheim's squad because he knew he wouldn't have to play much defense, via Anthony's 7 PM In Brooklyn podcast.

“We’ve got a mutual friend between our age, that I played AAU with, Draper, and I don’t think he ever told you but I used to pick his brain all the time,” Gay said. “Where’s Melo going, what’s he working on man. For real what school’s he going to? He was like, he’s going to Syracuse, and I was like why is he going there? He says, they play zone, he don’t got to play no defense. Swear to God.”

While this may initially sound like no more than friendly teasing, the story does check out. Anthony was never known for his defense, as he primarily focused on scoring and individual shot creation, which he did in spades at Syracuse. The two-time USA Male Basketball Athlete of the Year averaged 22.2 points per game with the team, via Sports Reference.

The question is, though, how was Gay able to obtain such personal information about Anthony's decision-making?

Rudy Gay and Carmelo Anthony's lives were intertwined before the NBA

New York Knicks former player Carmelo Anthony acknowledges the crowd after being introduced to the fans during the second quarter against the Houston Rockets at Madison Square Garden.
© Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Many fans may not know that Gay and Anthony grew up together in Baltimore. Gay explained on the show that he first met Anthony when he was a freshman in high school.

“We was at like, them camps,” Gay explained. “You know how we used to have them pop-up camps? So, I get invited. They're like, ‘Melo gonna be there.' I'm like, ‘alright, whatever.' So I meet him, and I was younger…So he playin', and they told me ‘go get him, go get Melo.' Melo looked at me and said ‘what? I ain't coming out.' So I told myself, in my mind, that I'ma get good enough so he can't sub me out.”

Anthony attended Towson Catholic High School before transferring to Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. Gay attended Eastern Technical and Archbishop Spalding High Schools, both in Maryland. Anthony was two years ahead of Gay, but both were top-five recruits in their respective recruiting classes as well as McDonald's All-American's.

Gay admitted that he didn't want to play defense back then, either, which is why he also considered Syracuse.

“That’s what he (Draper) told me,” Gay continued. “So I’m like okay cool, cool. So I’m thinking the whole time, I ain’t trying to play no defense neither. But it was between Syracuse, UConn, and Villanova.”

Gay ended up with the Huskies, where he garnered Big East Rookie of the Year honors. However, it's still funny that both him and Anthony's college decisions partially centered around not having to play defense. This story is yet another reminder that while defense wins championships, elite scoring can give some players a pass in that regard.