Why is Carmelo Anthony on a flight to Cuba with the New York Cosmos?

The North American Soccer League’s New York Cosmos have taken off on a “goodwill” mission to Cuba, and will play an exhibition match on Tuesday against the Cuban national team in Havana. The Cosmos are the first professional sports team to visit Cuba since the December 2014 announcement that the United States and Cuba were set to begin normalizing relations.

Exciting stuff. When one embarks on such a noteworthy excursion, one can’t depart with a delegation of only normals. Important people must be included. The Cosmos are obviously being advised by reasonable and wise people, because their delegation includes a few people random strangers would stop in the street for autographs.

Raúl is on the plane. That makes sense because the former Real Madrid star plays for the Cosmos, so of course he’s on the plane. Nevertheless, the Cuban government will surely be excited to have Raúl for a few days.

Subway sandwich spokesman Pelé is also on the flight, which also makes sense as the Brazil legend is also a Cosmos legend from the team’s previous NASL life in the 1970s. He’s been involved with the Cosmos in an ambassadorial capacity ever since the team rebooted in 2010.

And then there’s current New York Knick Carmelo Anthony. Yeah, you read that right. Melo is on the plane with the Cosmos heading to Havana.

Why? Well, the Knicks and Cosmos are both New York teams, at least in theory. But that’s not really a reason. Maybe Melo is a Cosmos fan?

OK. Maybe not.

How about this: There’s a rumor floating around that Melo might be interested in revitalizing the now defunct Puerto Rico Islanders for a run in the NASL. Melo, as you might have heard from friends, is half Puerto Rican, and his wife, La La, is 100% Nuyorican. If you like weaving threads and tying random facts together, well, maybe this trip to Havana with an NASL team is some sort of fact-finding mission to see how NASL teams … um … travel to Cuba?

But here’s my theory: Now that relations between the United States and Cuba are normalized, Melo is off on a quest for cigars. Because Melo likes cigars.

Like really likes Cuban cigars.

"Cuba import cigars from Me" #SmokeResponsibly #ThisIsMelo. #CigarAficionado. #TravelPack

A photo posted by @carmeloanthony on

Melo likes Cuban cigars so much, he really only hangs out with people who also really like Cuban cigars.

Anyway, now you know. Carmelo Anthony is on a plane with the Cosmos.

Please let us know if you have any relevant information pertaining to this joint venture.

Here are the match details, in case you’re interested:

Cosmos vs. Cuba Carousel