• Day 2 Practice Report
• Video: Phantom Cam: Best of Day 2
• Video: LeBron James Talks to Media
Las Vegas, Nevada -- It’s a simple truth that often gets lost amidst a decade-plus of accomplishments, and it’s this: The only way to chase history, as LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are doing, is to be immediately great and get a little lucky.
The USA Men’s National Team minicamp in Las Vegas wraps up Thursday night with the USA Basketball Showcase exhibition at the Thomas & Mack Center (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2). After this the next time USA Basketball gathers everyone together will be training camp for the 2016 Rio Olympics, and if they make that team, James and Anthony would become the first American basketball players to compete in four Olympic Games.
“I’ve been part of USAB since I was 18 years old,” Anthony said. “When you look back at all of it, I have a chance to do something special here.”
Anthony and James entered the NBA the same year, in 2003, and in the next offseason they traveled to Athens on the USA Men’s National Team that won bronze. It turned out to be a pivotal moment in USA Basketball history, because the regime that came after, led by USA Basketball Chairman and National Team Managing Director Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski, has experienced almost exclusively victories and success.
“We needed someone to bring back what it truly meant to represent your country, and that’s what Jerry and Coach K did,” James said. “Once they implemented the system, everyone fell into place.”
James and Anthony are part of a much larger group that bought in and worked to make the change happen. Because they’ve gotten better throughout their careers and been lucky with injuries, they now have a chance to create a legacy that currently only Anthony Davis, who played in the 2012 London Olympics right out of college, looks like he could match.
It’s something Colangelo is interested in following for what it says about the players and what it could say about the program he has helped to build.
“That’s what we wanted to accomplish 10 years ago when I took over,” Colangelo said. “Put in an infrastructure that’s going to last a long time.”
When asked about the highs and lows of his long relationship with the USA Men’s National Team, Anthony had an immediate response for both. The low, as expected, was the bronze medal and the feeling in the pit of his stomach walking off the medal stand.
“It changed my life and I think it changed USA Basketball’s life,” Anthony said. “The perception of us at that point in time was not good; we hit rock bottom, so for me to be able to be a part of the rebuilding process and getting it back to where it’s at right now, I’m excited.”
And the high? Well, some say you never really get over your first love, and that’s probably true for gold medals, too.
Going back to the Olympic stage with something to prove, the USA Men’s National Team went to Beijing in 2008 and won every game by double digits. Everybody bought in and did it the right way, Anthony said, and doing it again in 2012 in London set up the current situation.
James and Anthony have talked about what the accomplishment would mean. For more than a decade they’ve been two of the biggest figures in USA Basketball, and with one more run they could be alone on a new perch.
“We’re at a point in our career now where we’ve got to start holding onto these moments and enjoying these moments,” Anthony said. “… There’s some history here to be made.”