Olympic Basketball: Melo Continues to Lift Team USA
Carmelo Anthony made history on Saturday when he became the first American men’s basketball player to participate in four Olympics. It took him a little more than two games in Rio to put his name on the most prestigious record in the USA Basketball history books.
Melo, 32 entered Wednesday’s game vs. Australia in third place with 262 career points at the Olympics, a mere eight behind David Robinson for second place and 11 behind LeBron James for the United States record. It took him fewer than nine minutes to get the job done. Melo got out to a red-hot start by making three three-pointers in the first 100 seconds of the game. He added another bucket around the midpoint of the quarter to tie LeBron at 273, after which it seemed only a matter of time that he would set the new record.
No one had to wait very long. Anthony nailed his fourth three-pointer of the game with 1:11 remaining in the first to reach 276 career points.
Yet Melo didn’t stop there, finishing with 31 points on 11-of-21 shooting from the field and 9-of-14 from beyond the arc to become the first player in U.S. Olympic history to score at least 30 points in two separate games. It proved necessary this time, too the United States got a serious test from Australia and trailed 54-49 at halftime before picking up a 98-88 win.
Both James and Robinson participated in just three Olympics, although the former could always decide to return to the national team if he wishes to participate in four years in Tokyo at the ripe old age of 35. Rio will almost certainly be Anthony’s final Olympics, and he is one of the leaders of the United States expected to capture a third-straight gold medal. Melo previously earned a bronze medal during the team's poor performance in Athens in 2004.
While Larry Brown neglected to play him much in Athens, Melo has proven a fantastic fit for the FIBA game under Mike Krzyzewski. Playing largely as a power forward, Anthony thrives with the shorter three-point lead and exploits mismatches against slower big men. He took advantage of those matchups early against Australia and earned this record because of it.