Elgin Baylor, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Charles Barkley, George Gervin and the list goes on, but there’s a solid chance Carmelo Anthony — who turns 34 next season — will join this group of NBA superstars who never climbed the tallest mountain in the NBA to cradle the Larry O’Brien Trophy in their arms.
It’s really easy to deride Carmelo Anthony. He’s got the #StayMe7o hashtag game and an abundance of off-court deals that would make any athlete jealous, let alone one whose team has won just 49 combined games the last two seasons while failing to make the playoffs. And during those last two seasons Anthony has gotten his buckets while Knicks fans usually throw up their hands in disgust when they see him jab-stepping away at the elbow extended as teammates flare open around him on the perimeter.
Yet, there Anthony was Wednesday night last week, saving a USA Team from utter devastation at the hands of a talented Australian Olympic team that might still have to face again in the medal round.
Melo’s trying to win his third gold medal in Rio, you see, the most gold medals by a basketball player in history. And, while this might have been before your time, he’s captured a title before, too. It was at his lone season with Syracuse, but it’s proof he’s won and won big when it mattered most, and it should be noted that ‘Cuse team was laden with four freshman — including Melo — and just a No. 4 seed that year.
But that doesn’t matter. Ringzzz are all that matter. In fact, Melo couldn’t even be prematurely content with his career without getting some backlash from the unknown assembled masses who make up the majority of the online world. You don’t know them, and neither does Anthony, but they appeared to call him out when he had the temerity to be happy with his career despite a waning window for NBA glory.
“Most athletes don’t have an opportunity to say that they won a gold medal, better yet three gold medals,” Anthony told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst last week. “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.”