Carmelo Anthony, the heart and soul of Team USA, is set to become the first player to win three gold medals. Not even Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant can lay claim to the accomplishment.
Despite Anthony’s success at the Olympic stage, his NBA resume is yet to witness a solitary trip to the finals, let alone a championship.
In fact, Anthony has moved past the first round of the playoffs only thrice in his 13-year career, including a conference finals appearance with the Denver Nuggets in 2009.
For most pro basketball players, the riches of the NBA are often prioritized over playing for Team USA. It’s simply why the likes of Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul and Anthony Davis made no bones about pulling out of the Rio Games.
But for Anthony, the thrill of potentially winning three gold medals supersedes a NBA title. “Most athletes don’t have an opportunity to say that they won a gold medal, better yet three gold medals,” Anthony, currently in Rio for the Olympics, told ESPN.com in an interview.
Carmelo Anthony proud of his career
On Wednesday, Anthony became the leading points scorer in Team USA Olympics history when he surpassed LeBron James. “I would be very happy walking away from the game knowing that I’ve given the game everything I have, knowing I played on a high level at every level: high school, college, won (a championship at Syracuse) in college and possibly three gold medals.”
Anthony added that he wouldn’t regret not winning an NBA title so as long as he walks away from the sport with three gold medals. “I can look back on it when my career is over — if I don’t have an NBA championship ring — and say I had a great career.”
After a shocking Bronze medal finish in Athens 2004, Anthony won his first gold medal with Team USA at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. He followed that up with another gold in London 2012.
Carmelo Anthony and Team USA will next face Serbia on Friday. Following that, they will face Tony Parker’s France on Sunday in the final game of the preliminary round.