Anthony: basketball’s only triple Olympic champion
New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony has been a loyal servant of US basketball for 14 years, during which time he has competed at four Olympic Games, winning a bronze, at Athens 2004, and three consecutive gold medals thereafter. That is a record no other male basketball player can match, and just for good measure, the durable Carmelo also ranks first in the U.S. Olympic men’s team career standings for games played (31), points (336), field goals made (113), field goals attempted (262), rebounds (125), three-point field goals attempted (139), free throws made (53) and free throws attempted (71).
Bowing out on a high
“Most athletes don’t have an opportunity to say that they won a gold medal, better yet three gold medals,” said Carmelo after helping the USA defeat Serbia 96-66 in the final at Rio 2016, a victory that sealed his golden hat-trick. “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 in college and 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.”
A 2003 NCAA champion
Anthony was born in Brooklyn, New York, on 29 May 1984, and named after his father, who died following a long illness when he was only two. After moving to Baltimore a few years later, he began to hone his talent for basketball. Standing 2.03m tall, weighing in at 109kg and specialising as a forward, he excelled with Syracuse University in the 2002/03 NCAA season, helping his team defeat the University of Kansas to win the title, while also claiming the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four award. He was then picked in the first round of the 2003 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. After eight seasons with the Nuggets, he was traded to the New York Knicks, where he was still playing in 2016.
Anthony made his international debut in 2002, winning a bronze medal at the Junior World Championships that year. Two years later, he was named alongside LeBron James in the USA team that went to Athens 2004, where the Americans lost 89-81 to Argentina in the semi-finals before beating Lithuania to take the bronze. Further disappointment came at the 2006 FIBA World Championships in Japan, where the USA again had to settle for third place after losing 101-95 to Greece in the semis. “Standing on that court and watching Greece celebrate, knowing that we were considering ourselves and calling ourselves the best players in the world, and at that moment we weren’t. Everything changed after that experience,” said Anthony afterwards.
The making of an Olympic treble
The USA headed to Beijing 2008 with Mike Krzyzewski, better known as “Coach K”, in charge of a formidable unit dubbed the “Redeem Team” and featuring the likes of James, Anthony and Kobe Bryant. Determined to set the record straight, they had limbered up for the Games by winning the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship, and continued in the same vein in the Chinese capital, where they won all their matches with something to spare. After gaining revenge on the Argentinians with a 101-81 win in the semi-finals, they claimed top spot on the podium with a superb 118-107 defeat of Spain. Four years later in London, and still with James and Bryant for company, Anthony won his second Olympic gold thanks to another flawless campaign, capped by another victory over the Spanish, this time by 107 points to 100. Anthony was his side’s second highest scorer in the British capital, averaging 16.3 points per match. He completed his golden treble at Rio 2016, where he became the first U.S. basketball player to appear at four Games. Helping his side get out of a tight spot against Australia in the first round with a 31-point haul, Anthony played all eight matches in a USA campaign that was less impressive than the previous two. That mattered not to the Knicks man, who improved his already impressive Olympic stats and picked up gold medal number three following the defeat of Serbia in the final.