Carmelo Anthony Excited About Another Olympic Run
• Las Vegas
Carmelo Anthony heard the comments. While some USA Men’s National Team veterans around him were opting out of this summer’s road to the Rio Olympic Games, Anthony never considered passing on the pursuit of a third straight Olympic gold medal.
“A lot of people were telling me, ‘Don’t do it. Don’t do it.’ But I actually enjoy it,” Anthony said after Monday’s opening practice in Las Vegas. “I was a part of USA Basketball since I was a (senior) in high school.”
Anthony has come a long way since that 2001 USA Men’s Youth Development Festival, and so has USA Basketball. Anthony is one of only two players on the current roster with Olympics experience — Kevin Durant is the other — and his resume goes back to the 2004 bronze-medal team that ended up bringing managing director Jerry Colangelo and a culture change into the fold.
“That ’04 team was put together in two weeks and they told us to go over there and try to win a gold medal,” Anthony said. “But when Jerry came in, he organized things. He sat down with us as individuals. He gave us this whole plan. And I was a part of the plan since then.”
Along the way Anthony has helped to win three gold and two bronze medals in international competition, and his inclusion on this year’s roster makes him the first USA Basketball player ever selected to four Olympic rosters.
“He’s getting all the old jokes right now,” joked center DeMarcus Cousins. “But he’s been great so far. He’s been a great leader for us. He’s obviously the most experienced guy here, so we’re going to follow his lead.”
That’s just fine with coach Mike Krzyzewski, who will step down from USA Basketball after the Rio Olympic Games in August. Since Colangelo brought Krzyzewski on board back in 2005, the USA Men’s National Team has gone 52-1 in official FIBA or FIBA Americas competitions, and Anthony has been a part of the majority of those victories.
“He’s been on three of the teams that I’ve coached and we have a close-knit relationship,” said Krzyzewski, who called Anthony the vocal leader of this year’s team.
Anthony has been vocal on a lot of fronts lately, including messages on Instagram and at the start of the recent ESPY Awards ceremony asking for the country to come together in the wake of several tragic shootings.
“We are athletes, but we are human beings at the end of the day, so we’re affected by all of it,” Anthony said.
Just like they will on the court, some players followed Anthony’s leadership in talking about social change, too.
“It’s a rough time for America right now,” Cousins said. “Our main message right now is unity, and that’s from every guy on this roster.”
Training camp is only one practice in, so lineups and rotations will still be molded over the next few weeks as the USA National Team prepares for its first preliminary game in Rio on Aug. 6. As the oldest guy on the roster, the 32-year-old Anthony might not have to play the minutes he once did, which is always an appealing part of going from leading an NBA team to being a piece of the Men’s National Team.
“(We) can just have a role, just go out there and play a game, rely on everyone else, rely on the best players in the world,” Anthony said. “Sometimes it comes easy to us and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s a matter of having the opportunity out there.”
That opportunity was louder to Anthony than any dissenting opinion he heard. It won’t always be easy but the USA National Team is once again the favorite to win an Olympic gold medal, and Anthony is here to show them the way.
“I didn’t want to miss out,” he said.