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    10 Aug 2024

    FIBA Melo's Top Five Olympic Performances

    MIES (Switzerland) - Carmelo Anthony is a bona fide legend of USA Basketball, a vital part of his country's decade of excellence from 2007 to 2016. He remembers his top five games.

    MIES (Switzerland) - Carmelo Anthony is a bona fide legend of USA Basketball, a vital part of his national team's decade of excellence that began in 2007 and lasted until 2016. 

    If his USA Olympic career began with a heavy thud, a 92-73 defeat to Puerto Rico in 2004 at the Athens Games and ultimately a bronze medal, the rest of his USA tenure was pure magic.

    Anthony is not only a three-time Olympic champion. He's also in the USA record books, the first to play in four Olympic basketball tournaments. In Rio de Janeiro, Anthony became his country's all-time leading Olympic scorer (336 points) and rebounder (125).

    He was so good in the USA jersey that he garnered the nickname FIBA Melo. Anthony was an amazing player who became even better when he represented his country. He explained it in an interview at the Patrick Baumann House of Basketball.

    "FIBA Melo allowed me to play a specific role and really showcase a specific skillset because of the guys I had around me on the team," he said. "They made it a lot easier for me to go out and shoot the ball and do what I do best.

    "They put me in positions on the court to succeed and shoot the ball. They knew what they were getting. They trusted me, they believed in me. But that was something I had to work on over time, get those guys believing in me. That I’ll be there to make a shot. We could get hot, but I’ll (always) be there to make a shot."

    Anthony had five performances that truly stood out in his four Olympic campaigns and we asked him about them.

    5. Melo's Farewell Game v Serbia, 2016 Olympic Final

    The 96-66 USA win secured Anthony the third Olympic gold medal in his career. His seven rebounds made him his country's all-time leader in that statistical category.

    How special was this day for Anthony, who was 32 years old?

    "I realized that was my last time putting the USA jersey on," he said. "It made that moment special, to go out with a gold medal in Rio, being the elder statesman on the team, someone that's been there for 12 prior years and to be able to go out that way.

    "I could say I did it, went out with a gold medal. Starting from losing in Athens and getting bronze and now we fast forward to 2016 and the story is the flip side of that. I'm able to cherish that moment for the rest of my life."

    To grab the all-time rebounding mark meant a lot.

    "The only one thing I was really going after was the all-time rebounding," he said. "I had set the goal, all the way from 2004 because I knew I had to bring something else to the team, other than just trying to score. The team needed something different, and rebounding to me was just fun. I knew that Charles Barkley had that record and I wanted to go in a different lane that no one was really thinking about. I loved to rebound and I found my niche in the national team..."

    "There were a lot of things that were at stake during Rio," he said "It was a special moment."

    4. Semi-Final v Argentina at 2012 Olympics

    Argentina had always been a difficult opponent for the USA so Anthony and his teammates were laser-focused for this game. Anthony poured in 18 points and the Americans won, 109-83.

    "I just remember how intense that game was," Anthony said. "The preparation for that game versus Argentina in 2012, we were very locked in. We were focused on not having any slippage. We took Argentina very seriously. For years, it seemed like we had been going back and forth with Argentina so in '12, we just wanted to validate what we did in '08.

    3. Semi-Final v Argentina, at 2008

    Four years before, Argentina knocked off the USA, 89-81, at the same stage to reach the Olympic Gold Medal Game in Athens. Anthony and the Americans had not forgotten.

    "There was a heavy emphasis on beating Argentina every chance we got," Anthony said. "Going back to 2004, that was an embarrassing moment. Not because we lost to Argentina, but how we lost in 2004. Carrying that energy and mindset into 2008 where now we have the guys on this (team) hopefully we've got a chance to go and win a gold medal at this point. So we had this mindset and we knew Argentina was in our way of getting a gold medal."

    The 2008 Gold Medal Game against Spain was arguably the greatest Final ever played, one the USA won, 118-107. But the USA had to get past Argentina first.

    "I don't think people talk about it enough," Anthony said. "Of course there was Spain but we always went against Spain in the Final game (except the Semi-Final in Rio). We always had to meet Argentina on the way to the Final game. So it was always battles and bruises and arguments and a real physical grinding game against Argentina. I do think Argentina is the rival to the US. At least I can say that from 2004 to 2016.

    2. USA's 98-88 victory over Australia in 2016

    In this Preliminary Round encounter, Anthony put on a stunning display with 31 points after making nine of 15 from behind the arc. In the process, he became USA's all-time leading scorer.

    "I remember the game, I remember the feeling," Anthony said. "I do remember that it took me a while to appreciate that because it was just happening. It was on to the next one. I didn't get a chance to reflect on becoming the all-time leading scorer.

    "I knew I had a chance but when you're at it, you’re not even thinking about it. So I didn't really appreciate that until later, when I was able to look back and say, 'Wow, that was a special moment.' But when you're in it, you don't really feel it."

    1. FIBA Melo had 37 points in 14 minutes against Nigeria

    There are scoring explosions and there are impossible to comprehend scoring explosions. Anthony had the latter in a 156-73 rout of Nigeria in London.

    "That game was just more like in the zone," he said. "From the minute you wake up, everything is aligned, everything feels good. No issues, no worries, the body feels good, the mind feels good.

    "Then you go to the game and it's there. You hit the first one and then you hit the second one and it's unexpected. And it's like, 'He's got it going.' And so now my teammates put me in those positions. Chris Paul was finding me. LeBron was finding me. Guys were cheering. We were up 50-something points and guys were still cheering and it was like a major part of the game."

    Even so, Anthony just remembers playing, and not that he was setting the all-time Olympic single-game scoring record for a player competing for USA.

    "I don't want to underestimate it because 37 points in 14 minutes is a lot," he said. "I just felt good from the moment I woke up to going into that game when I told then guys, 'Today is going to be a good day.'

    As Anthony talks about this scintillating display, he smiles and sits back in his chair.

    "It's amazing," he said. "Until I look back and reflect, it’s not something that I'm even aware of. You (interviewer) make me go back and think, 'Wow, this was a special run for me.' Because I never looked at it any other way other than just going and playing basketball and winning and trying and just whatever happens, happens."


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