Carmelo Anthony won his third gold medal as a member of Team USA to solidify his legacy as the best Olympic Men’s Basketball player ever.
Team USA Men’s Basketball won their 15th gold medal, blowing out Serbia 96-66 on Sunday. At the center of the celebration was Carmelo Anthony. After a sound victory he announced his retirement from Team USA.
The greatest Olympic Men’s Basketball player of all time was a key element in rebuilding the USA Basketball program that’s re-established itself as a powerhouse.
Anthony went against the status quo and chose to become a member of the USA Olympic basketball team for the fourth time, the first player in history to do so, in an attempt to become the first US men’s basketball player in history to win three Olympic gold medals.
Anthony’s first Olympic appearance was horrible. In his defense, no one had a good time on the disastrous 2004 team in Athens.
They were arguably the worst USA basketball teams of all time, losing three games (the most ever lost by a USA Olympic basketball team) as well as the biggest loss in a game in their history. They came away with just the bronze.
The 2007 FIBA World Championships were a preview of things to come.
A shakeup after the 2004 disaster with Team USA involving Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski being appointed head coach and Anthony’s college coach, Jim Boeheim, named an assistant made Anthony one of Team USA’s most trusted pieces.
Anthony, James, and Wade were co-captains on a team that went 10-0 and crushed Argentina 118-81 in the gold medal game. Melo was Team USA’s leading scorer and the tournament’s second-leading scorer with a 21.2 points per game average.
The 2008 Olympic team didn’t miss a beat. They had eleven NBA All-Stars and cruised to a gold medal, winning games by an average margin of 32.2 points. Kobe Bryant, still fresh in his prime, shouldered a majority of the scoring load.
In 2012 Anthony and LeBron James went to their third straight Olympics. He joined Michael Jordan and David Robinson as the only American basketball players to play in three Olympics.
James took over as the leader of the squad, running the point, and calling out plays on both ends of the court. Coach K may have given James the keys to the car, but Melo put on a show.
In the US’s beatdown against Nigeria, Melo set the Olympic record for most points in a single game by one player when he dropped 37 points in 14 minutes (on 10 three-pointers).
Anthony finished second on the team in scoring while shooting 53.5% from the field and 50% from downtown.
After all this, he could’ve skipped the 2016 Olympics in Rio and used the summer to rest like many of his peers, including close friends James and Chris Paul.
With Kevin Durant the only other player on the team with Olympic experience, Anthony took over the role of respected veteran that Kobe Bryant had as a 34-year-old in 2012.
Everybody knew it was Bryant’s last hurrah back in 2012 and figured as much with Anthony, 32, this summer.
All of this led to Anthony being named team captain.
He was more than a leader on the court though. Team USA were celebrities in Rio, with Melo as their old man. And it was awesome.
Whether he was disapproving of a Vanessa Carlton sing-along or clowning Jimmy Butler‘s hair, Anthony was the unquestioned alpha dog of Team USA.
— Adam Reisinger (@AdamReisinger) July 30, 2016
The US sputtered to the gold medal game, in a year they were expected to coast throughout, before laying it on Serbia. Anthony’s confidence never wavered as he was second on the squad in minutes and scoring, both behind Durant.
The individual highlight of course was the anticipated of Anthony surpassing James to become the United States’ all-time leading scorer in Olympic competition.
Melo started the game against Australia third on the list behind James and David Robinson, and passed both in scoring 31 points.
Melo caused some controversy when he said he’d be okay with three gold medals and no NBA titles. New York Knicks’ fans probably don’t want to hear that, but the truth is that Anthony is already a champion who’s earned as much respect as any of his peers.
NEXT: THE SUMMER OF MELO