Carmelo Anthony Makes Olympic History

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Though Carmelo Anthony has yet to capture an NBA championship ring, he has made Olympic history with his selection to Team USA 2016, becoming the first U.S. men’s basketball player to play in four Olympics.

United States' Carmelo Anthony during an exhibition basketball game against China Tuesday, July 26, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Carmelo Anthony is the leader of the Team USA basketball team. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Anthony, a New York Knicks All-Star regarded as a scoring machine, began his Olympic career in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. He was an inexperienced 20-year-old fresh off a stellar rookie season with the Denver Nuggets, prefaced by an NCAA championship with Syracuse in 2003.

The 2004 Olympic Games ended poorly for Team USA. They finished with a bronze medal behind Argentina and Italy. Anthony struggled, managing only 2.4 points and 1.6 rebounds, and not many minutes played.

Things went much better in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, when Anthony established himself as one of the leaders on the squad, averaging 11.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, and helping Team USA to reclaim the gold medal. The 6-foot-8 forward recorded 13 points in the 118-107 final victory over Spain.

In 2012, the U.S. men’s basketball team repeated as gold medalists, and were steered by Kevin Durant, who led the team with 19.5 points per contest and Anthony, who was the second-leading scorer with 16.3 points, and added 4.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists.

Though Anthony only tallied eight points, five rebounds and three assists in the gold medal match – a rematch against Spain which resulted in a final score of 107-100 – he put on a historic performance a few weeks prior that took the sports world by shock. On Aug. 2, 2012, Anthony exploded for 37 points – in only 14 minutes – in a 156-73 win over Nigeria, setting the single-game scoring record and three-point record (10) in one of the most domineering performances in the history of Olympic basketball.   

In the 2016 Olympics hosted by Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the 32-year-old Baltimore native will continue his record Olympic basketball career as a seasoned veteran on a team stacked with talent, depth and superb coaching. Thus far, Anthony is averaging 12.3 points and 7.3 rebounds, and has played a large role in Team USA’s 4-0 start in pre-Rio exhibition play (as of Aug. 1).

”Carmelo now is our leader and hopefully the experience that he has had will help.  We have six new guys who have not played internationally before so hopefully his leadership will help us,” U.S. head coach Mike Krzyzewski said after practice on July 31.   Krzyzewski led the Duke basketball team to five national championships spanning over a 35-year illustrious coaching career.

In addition, if the U.S. emerges once again as the world champs, Anthony will leave Rio as the winningest men’s Olympic basketball player ever with three gold medals. Not only so, but he is on track to shatter the all-time U.S. men’s Olympic basketball scoring record currently held by LeBron James, and he only needs 35 points to do so.

Moreover, Anthony will surpass James and Hall of Famer David Robinson for most games played, and currently holds the record for most three-pointers made with 94.

With the remarkable and historic achievements that Anthony has made in international play, he has undoubtedly established himself as an all-time formidable basketball great, making way for an induction into the Naismith Hall of Fame.