Carmelo Anthony: Mr Team USA

Melo USA

When you assemble the best talent from the best league in the world (who are willing to forego their free time to ball some more), the result is pretty damaging. The 2016 installment of Team USA are again stacked to the hilt with skill and talent, even if top tier guys like LeBron James, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry and James Harden have declined the invitation to represent their country at the Olympic games in Rio next month.

One staple in the Team USA roster for the past decade has been the New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony. Rio represents the fourth Olympic games that Melo has donned the red, white and blue for – and he makes it no secret that he feels like a leader on the star-studded team. Not just because he is an “elder statesman” at 32 years of age, but because of his willingness to answer the international call and ball out when he does.

In 2004, Team USA were denied a gold medal, taking home bronze in what was a shocking result in the scheme of things. It opened the team up for plenty of criticism, and also sparked a commentary around the NBA game not translating well to the FIBA competition and balanced team play of the Euroleagues. The 2004 team was clunky, never really gelled and it showed as more cohesive units were able to negate the athletic abilities of the NBA stars with crisp ball movement, offensive sets and defensive effort.

Melo KD Kobe USA

Fast forward four years, and Team USA answer the critics with a stellar performance taking out the Gold Medal and never really being challenged. In this campaign, Carmelo Anthony really came to light as one of the “stars of the show”. People started to sit up and take notice at just how well he as performing in International competition. He was strong enough to handle the physicality of the bigger Euro teams and frontcourts, fast enough to take advantage of the big guys and big enough to bully the smaller forwards and guards. A scoring machine, he was putting up buckets from all over the floor, earning worldwide praise and respect. 11.5ppg, 4.3rpg – not exactly gaudy numbers, but in a team loaded with talent and minutes being shared 12 deep, you don’t expect massive statlines. So the eye test prevailed and people were impressed.

In 2012, Melo “broke out” averaging 16.3ppg and 4.8rpg including a monstrous 37 point outing against Nigeria which included going 10-12 from behind the FIBA three point arc. He appeared to be comfortable on the International stage and with the Olympic style of play. It had me wondering back then (and again now after watching how effortlessly he was scoring against the Chinese in the second pre-Olympic warmup “friendly”) – is there an NBA player better suited to the FIBA style of play? Sure, there are plenty of “more talented” players in the NBA – Melo doesn’t seem to crack anyone’s top 10 list these days, but I can’t recall seeing a player so naturally and easily adapt to a different brand of basketball like Melo does.

MB Melo tweet

As Team USA gear up for another run at gold in Rio, Melo figures to once again play a huge part in the mission – even with players like Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Kyrie Irving and others sharing the floor with him. Obviously, there will never be a better team than the 1992 Dream Team, and that roster was LOADED with Hall of Fame talent, but since then, has there been a better Olympic baller than Melo?

Put your hate for the man aside, and hit me up on Twitter (@markbruty) with your answers.

One Comment

  1. Kalyn

    October 21, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    As Charlie Sheen says, this article is “WIGNINN!”

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