Scoop B: Meet Ben Ricciardi, The Brand Strategist Who Pushed Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony To Boast His NYC Roots

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and RESPECT.Magazine managing editor Brandon ”Scoop B’ Robinson. Photo Provided By: Ismael ‘Calligrafist’ Sayeed of Calligrafist Photography

The New York Knicks have not played a regular season game since their 114-113 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on April 12, yet they’re still front page news.

Two weeks ago, the orange and blue fired Phil Jackson as Knicks team President. Over the weekend, former Cleveland Cavaliers GM David Griffin removed his name as Jackson’s successor. According to ESPN reports, Griffin had difference of opinion with Knicks ownership over how much control he would have over basketball decisions.

The icing on the cake?

2013 Knicks draftee, Tim Hardaway Jr., played the role of prodigal son after averaging 14.5 points and 2.3 assists in 27 minutes per game as a part-time starter for the Atlanta Hawks. Last week Hardaway Jr. signed a four-year $71 million deal with the Knicks. Despite that signing, online sportsbook TopBet predicts crosstown rivals Brooklyn Nets will finish next season better than the Knicks.

This ushers in the question: Was Tim Hardaway Jr. brought back to the Knicks to replace currrent star Carmelo Anthony?

If that is the case, Hardaway Jr. will have a lot more fun playing under current Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek than he did playing under former Knicks coach Derek Fisher. My sources told me that during Hardaway Jr’s first stint in New York, he bore the burden of being the son of NBA legend Tim Hardaway Sr. I’m told both both Fisher and Hardaway Sr. weren’t the best of friends during their playing careers in the 90s and at times Fisher took that frustration out on Hardaway Jr.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, before being fired as team president of the Knicks, Phil Jackson openly discussed his want to ship Anthony to another team. Anthony, for the record put up decent stats, averaging 22.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game last season. It has been widely reported that Anthony, who has one year remaining on his current contract, is willing to waive his no-trade clause if he’s dealt to the Cavaliers or the Rockets.

On Sunday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, reported that the Knicks have a “renewed willingness” to make a deal that would send Anthony to the Houston Rockets following their acquisition of Hardaway Jr.

Anthony has always contended that New York is what he loves since arriving to the Big Apple in a blockbuster trade with the Denver Nuggets in 2011.

Before signing his five-year, $125 million max deal with the Knicks in the summer of 2014, Anthony sought out the services of brand strategist and consultant, Ben Ricciardi. Ricciardi, the CEO of the Burbank, California based Times 10 brand agency, has been trusted to spearhead roll-out brand initiatives with everyone from Adidas, Nike, the Houston Rockets’ James Harden and others.

In an interview with Scoop B Radio on Friday, Ricciardi, an expert and trusted authority of late via his expert analysis about Uber’s ousted CEO Travis Kalanick said that in 2013, he suggested to Anthony that he needed to show his connectedness to New York City through visual campaigns via social media. After all, Anthony was born in Brooklyn and lived in the borough throughout his teenage years before moving to Baltimore.

Last week, a video clip of Anthony’s workout with his trainer, Chris Brinkley littered the internet. The video showed Anthony running in the park at 2 A.M. Also last week, another video clip showed interim Knicks President Steve Mills and his Knicks staff chuckling at Anthony’s workout while seated and watching hoops at the NBA’s Orlando Summer League. ESPN’s Ian Begley stated that the Knicks declined to comment on the matter, making it difficult to know what, exactly, was going on at the game.

 

While that drew attention, Anthony’s on-camera off season routine is nothing new. Anthony’s ‘Define Yourself,’ a campaign that detailed how Anthony was changing his body and changing his shape was a fan favorite. According to Ricciardi, the concept all began over lunch with Anthony. “I’m hearing how hard he works and he’s working all through the night, every day on his game, on his body and redefining himself,” Ricciardi told me on Scoop B Radio.

Check out Ben Ricciardi and Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson on Scoop B Radio

 

 

“I went to him and said: ‘man, like, the world doesn’t know this and the world needs to know why you’re staying in New York.’ You were born in Red Hook and you grew up in Red Hook until you were 13 years old. Everyone thinks of you as a Baltimore kid, but really you’re a New York kid and this is your hometown, and you were raised in Red Hook.”

Ricciardi added:

“Secondarily, people think of you as lazy, they think of you as not working hard and I’m seeing you grinding on your shot, working every day, working with your coaches, working with your trainers, we need to get that out there to people.”

The experiment worked. Anthony’s workout routine has been legendary. In the summer of 2014, he shed about 30 to 40 pounds by cutting carbs and meat from his diet and dedicating to his workout routine. “It wasn’t more about my diet, it was more about the training that I was doing and really pushing myself to that limit,” Anthony told me after his weight loss.

Anthony has been adamant about his loyalty to the Knicks over the years. He told a room full of kids at his annual ProCamps basketball camp: “My window is closing, so I’m trying to get this championship to New York ASAP.”

Ben Ricciardi. Photo Credit: Instagram

Ricciardi and Anthony also collaborated on a visual called ‘This Is Why I Stayed,’ a visual that explained why he chose the Knicks over the Houston Rockets and other teams who were courting Anthony back in 2014. “That piece came out incredible and actually ended up being played Opening Night on all the jumbotrons at Madison Square Garden after the first timeout.”

A six time NBA All Star, Carmelo Anthony, 33 was the NBA’s scoring champion in 2013. Anthony holds the record for the most points scored by a Knick at Madison Square with 62. He’s also a three time USA basketball Olympic gold medalist.

The hardest part of working with Melo may surprise you: “He goes back and forth whether he wants people to see stuff or not,” said Ricciardi. “The stuff came out amazing but he’s always wishy-washy, which you get from celebrities, athletes and people like that. One day they’re all excited and gung-ho and then the next day they’re like: ‘I don’t know if I want the world to see this.’”

 

 

 

 

 

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About Brandon Robinson

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson is a managing editor and columnist at RESPECT Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @ScoopB and Instagram: @Scoop_B.

As a 12 year old, he was a Nets reporter from 1997-1999, co-hosting a show called Nets Slammin’ Planet with former New Jersey Net Albert King and Nets play-by-play man Chris Carrino. He’s also been a writer and radio host at CBS and a staff writer at The Source Magazine.

He’s a graduate of both Eastern University and Hofstra University.

You can catch him daily on the Scoop B Radio Podcast. Visit ScoopBRadio.com to listen.

For inquiries and to contact Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson visit ScoopB.com