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La La and Carmelo Anthony Are Separated, and the NBA Power Axis Is Disrupted

The fabric of basketball celebrity cannot afford to lose La La

(Getty Images/Ringer illustration)
(Getty Images/Ringer illustration)

What a strange, sad week for Carmelo Anthony. Three days ago, his president of basketball operations began a very public campaign to get him to waive his no-trade clause. Now we learn from TMZ that Carmelo and his wife, former MTV VJ and VH1 reality star La La Anthony (née Vasquez), have allegedly separated. Trades have a way of shaking up the NBA landscape, but barring LeBron opting out of his Cleveland deal, nothing else will cause this much turbulence around the Association.

The speculation about how this might affect Melo’s interest in leaving the Knicks is already brewing, but the most obvious collateral damage is to the upper echelon of the NBA WAG scene, of which La La has long been a cornerstone. Her majesty was indubitably established in 2010 with the debut of La La’s Full Court Wedding on VH1. The network introduced Basketball Wives the same year, but she was too big to share a pond with Evelyn Lozada or Shaunie O’Neal. (It likely also helped that she was already on-air talent for Viacom.) She was the ur-basketball wife, and couldn’t be constricted to the general population. She blazed a trail in turning her husband’s profession into an on-ramp to a higher level of celebrity. Ayesha Curry should thank her every time Ayesha’s Home Cooking gets picked up.

But La La’s real innovation was in the highest tier of NBA spouses. Thanks to Melo’s tight friendship with LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul, the league’s WAG elite is a list just four names long: Gabrielle Union, Savannah Brinson James, Jada Paul, and La La. If internet evidence is any indication, the quartet formed real bonds beyond their husbands’ shared occupation. Here’s a photo of La La and Union at the Paul wedding in 2011:

(Essence)
(Essence)

How happy they look celebrating the love of dear friends! And here’s another of La La, Jada, and Vannah from a random girls night out:

(Via <a href="http://jocksandstilettojill.com/2011/10/the-assist-lala-jada-paul-savannah-brinson-photo/">Jocks, Stiletto, &amp; Jill</a><em>)</em>
(Via Jocks, Stiletto, & Jill)

This is real friendship, husbands not necessary. The friend group became all the more famous when the eight-some began vacationing together in 2015. Melo’s Instagram post about their inaugural Banana Boat holiday celebrated brotherhood, but it was much more than that. It was about flagrantly displaying that this is the nexus of basketball power, wives included. The Melo–La La split throws all that into question. What happens now? Is there a girls’ trip and a guys’ trip? Does La La get to attend with a future beau? Does Melo get to bring a new lady? It’s an uncertainty far greater than who will win the 2017 NBA championship (Cleveland).

However the Banana Boat shakes out, La La will plan her next move carefully. She needs to stay famous and relevant. More than that, we need her to stay famous and relevant. Think of all she’s given us: La La’s Full Court Life was a riveting look into the Anthonys’ time in Denver, including when she engineered a bowling outing in an attempt to get Arron Afflalo and Kelly Rowland (yes, of Destiny’s Child) to date. The show also revealed just how miserable Melo was living in Colorado. There was also the time that the world learned she literally does nothing on many weekends: “Then I go home and do nothing,” she told Page Six in 2015. We need more La La in our lives. And who can forget the time she dubbed them “the first couple of the NBA”?

La La was famous before she started dating an NBA All-Star, and she’ll likely find a way to stay in the spotlight. She and Carmelo began dating in 2003, the same year that Anthony entered the league, and so the post-break-up Melo is the one we need to worry about. If this presages his exit from New York, we could be encountering a whole new Anthony in the 2017–18 season. Thirty-three-year-old NBA players are not typically prone to reinvention, whether on the court or off, but good luck to him.

Whatever lies ahead for the Anthonys, we do know one thing for sure: Love is dead.