As he’s approaching his mid-30s, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony has appeared in four Olympics and is on a quest to capture his third gold medal, a task that no American basketball player has accomplished.
“Most athletes don’t have an opportunity to say that they won a gold medal, better yet three gold medals,” Anthony said to Marc Stein of ESPN. “I would be very happy walking away from the game knowing that I’ve given the game everything I have (and) knowing I played on a high level at every level: High school, college, won in college and possibly three gold medals.”
This brings up an interesting question: do gold medals equate to greatness?
My answer is no. What determines Anthony’s greatness is what he’s done in the NBA, and he has put together a great career. But championships still hold weight.
Toward the end of the interview, Anthony said, “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.”
Melo has already had a terrific NBA career in terms of individual performance — he’s one of the best scorers the league has ever seen. During his 13-year career, Melo’s been voted an All-Star nine times, captured a scoring title, and appeared on six All-NBA teams, but he’s never been to an NBA Final, and just once has he been to the Conference Finals.
It’s also not like he’s never won anything, which he had already pointed out with his championships at Syracuse and Oak Hill, but nothing compares to an NBA championship, and his ranking among the all-time greats is impacted without it.
With the other Olympic sports, the Games are the pinnacle; that’s not the case with men’s basketball.
For him to even have the opportunity to participate in four Olympics shows tremendous consistency, but the international success is expected. And so is their dominance. You cannot deny the fact that the United States has the greatest collection of talent when competing internationally, and every four years their supposed to take home the gold with almost no contest.
I don’t want to water down three (potential) gold medals, but they come at the expense of lesser competition. The real test of Anthony’s greatness would be to take down his contemporaries on the NBA’s biggest stage.
Unfortunately, the Knicks are not in a position to do so, and Carmelo Anthony’s time to get that elusive ring is closing.
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