If you guessed Carmelo Anthony, you must be one unerring individual.
News broke today that Anthony has committed to playing for Team USA in the 2016 Olympics, embarking on what will be a 3rd consecutive international voyage with the team in hopes of obtaining another Gold Medal for the United States.
Anthony, who hasn’t enjoyed a winning season with his New York Knicks since 2012-13, must be drunk off of jubilance as the constant episodes of turmoil will be temporarily substituted for ones of triumph, although there may be a sliver of disappointment due to the fact that some of his contemporaries such as James Harden, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook have pulled out of the competition due to various reasons.
As previously stated, Anthony and New York have endured some tumultuous campaigns in recent years, so playing for Team USA will be a refreshing contrast in terms of success generated on the court. He’s been reviled for re-signing with the Knicks in what seemed to be a move incentivized by money, and many have had conjectures about his no-trade clause and if he should wave it or not if New York is able to sculpt a workable deal around Anthony.
Being in Rio will purge the basketball-jarred Anthony of the demons from past season, and will remind him what winning feels like, which should reenergize him going into what is one of his most important seasons with the Knicks, with New York touting an actual competent point guard now and more help possibly on the way. Anthony needs a reprieve, and this will serve as that.
Too bad for Anthony, Team USA doesn’t convene sooner, as he could’ve used the time to recruit Kevin Durant to the Knicks. Being in close proximity of Durant on an almost daily basis may have boded well for New York, but I’m sure Anthony is attempting to do his fair-share of coercion already via text, Skype, FaceTime, Kik and AIM Messenger.
Anthony is surely to relish not only the opportunity to be one of, if not the primary veteran leader for this edition of the National Team, but he must also be giddy at the prospect of becoming the first player in Team USA history to capture three gold Medals. That’s a very rare distinction, and one that should be respected once you run down the list of players who have represented the United States in basketball. Not LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan or anyone else of legendary stature accomplished that feat.
This will only further bolster Anthony’s Hall-of-Fame likely résumé, and for most NBA players no accomplishment will supplant that of an NBA championship, but when the outlook of seizing one is bleak, you’ve got to amass other accolades. Being a nine-time All-Star, NBA scoring champion, three-time Gold Medalist and a 22K point scorer is nothing to scoff at and should land Anthony in Springfield.
In Anthony’s last stint with USA in 2012, he was the teams third leading scorer behind Durant and James, and he registered the greatest individual scoring performance in Team USA Basketball history as he poured 37 points on Nigeria in a mere 14 minutes of action.
The duplication of this type of performance is unlikely as Anthony is four years and a knee surgery removed from that outburst, but that doesn’t mean he’s still not capable. Prior to the second half of the season flameout that doomed New York, Anthony was having a stellar campaign, some even said one of the best of his career. He was scoring at a respectable clip, trusting his teammates, rebounding well and actually giving an effort on defense.
Eventually things unraveled, but it showed that Anthony is not systemically limited. He’s an underrated leader, and fiery competitor, which will aid this USA roster greatly.
This year’s team is going to be composed mostly of younger players with minimal to no international experience, so Anthony’s presence is intrinsic. He’ll purvey the USA with experience and leadership, and they’ll furnish him with energy and motivation which could be exactly what he and New York needs heading into next season.
Anthony surely can’t wait for the Olympics and I can’t either. In my estimation this time around won’t be as facile as everyone thinks, especially with the roster “depleted” as it is. Challenges will present themselves, and if we plan to bask in the glory of gold again, we’ll need to respond to them accordingly. There are a few players on the roster equipped to do so, and Carmelo Anthony is one of those guys whether you like it or not.
He’s been one of Team USA’s most recognizable faces over the years, and I hope he goes out on top in his last hurrah.