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DeAnthony Melton: From the basketball court to the chess board | The Triangle

DeAnthony Melton: From the basketball court to the chess board

Photo by James Biernat | The Triangle

In Camden, New Jersey, the 76ers went from the basketball court to the chess boards for the second annual Melton’s Make Your Move chess event. 76ers players DeAnthony Melton and Paul Reed, as well as President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey and chess influencer, Levy Rozman, were in attendance for a unique community event. 

Over a dozen local chess students came to the facility and had the opportunity to face off against all four celebrity participants, with a few students even defeating the 76ers players in their matches.

A chess tournament might seem like an unusual event for the 76ers to participate in, but switching up the ‘nerdy’ mindset regarding chess is one thing De’Anthony Melton hopes to do. 

“For me, chess has been a safe haven,” Melton said, “I play on my phone almost every day and I love how it brings people together.” 

This was Melton’s second year hosting the event, and many believe it was not just a success once again, but an improvement. 

“I think it’s important for kids to see that he’s a basketball player on the court who has high basketball IQ and high chess IQ,” Morey mentioned. “We leveled up the event a little bit this year by having Levy (Rosman) who’s obviously a big personality. We feel it’s important for us to keep the kids interested.”

A chess influencer is a title that did not exist a decade ago, but Rozman is helping take charge in changing that. The content creator gained popularity on Youtube and Twitch during the pandemic, and has been labeled ‘The Internet’s Chess Teacher.’ 

“Growing up, playing chess got you labeled a ‘weirdo’ and subject to bullying,” Rozman said. “So now, it’s really special that we have so many cool athletes that kids look up to playing chess.”

As the chess matches continued, DeAnthony Melton was able to share some special moments with his young chess opponents. Between the playful banter and light trash talk, one thing remained apparent, and that was the care for the community’s youth that Melton promotes.

Melton has been recovering from a back injury that has sidelined him since Feb. 27, and has plagued him since December. The 6’2” guard was averaging 11.5 points per game prior to his injury, and his along with teammate Joel Embiid’s absence has been a contributing factor for 76ers fall from fifth to seventh in the eastern conference standings. 

As an athlete, taking time away from your recovery is a noble thing, and hosting a community event should earn Melton recognition. 

“I think it’s important to realize that anybody can play chess,” DeAnthony commented. “Some kids might not even watch basketball, but it’s cool connecting with them on the chess table.”