By virtue of participating in the Rio Olympics, Carmelo Anthony was already setting a record for USA men’s basketball. He’s the very first American basketball player to participate in the Olympics four times, having played in each summer games since 2004. But with a big performance against Australia today, Carmelo earned his place in USA basketball lore.
The former Syracuse phenom and now long-time NBA star scored 31 points, pretty much carrying the USA on his back in a tough win over Australia. In doing so, he passed both LeBron James (the former top dog) and David Robinson for the title of all-time leading scorer in USA Olympic history.
Carmelo has already played in the most games in Olympic history for USA men’s hoops. With 26 games played, he’s passed both LeBron and Robinson, who each played 24 games. He entered today’s game ranked third in USA basketball history in scoring, having passed the immortal Michael Jordan (who only played in the Olympics twice – 1984, and 1992) in the team’s last outing. Now, though, he’s up to 293 points – which is 20 more than LeBron scored in his three Olympic appearances, and 23 more than Robinson.
The former Syracuse star was already the all-time leader in made three pointers in USA basketball history, and has only been adding to his career record total. Today, he knocked down 9-of-15 attempts from long range.
But it’s not just scoring where Carmelo is adding his name to the record books. Coming into these Olympics, he was fourth in USA hoops history in rebounds, with 83. He’s snagged 18 rebounds in three games so far, bringing his career total to 101. He’s now in second place in USA basketball history, and is only the second men’s hoops player to surpass 100 boards. David Robinson owns the record, with 124. There’s a very good chance that, in (probably) claiming another gold medal, Carmelo will also take over in the top spot in that statistical category, as well.
Carmelo’s NBA career has certainly had its ups and downs, mainly because he’s never been on any particularly good teams. But there’s never been any question that he’s a perfect player for the international game at the Olympics. A highly skilled, 6-foot-8 forward who can play inside or out and excels with his midrange jumper translates well to a version of the game with a shorter three point line, after all.
Obviously, Carmelo won’t reach the same level as a guy like Michael Phelps in the annals of USA Olympic history. But as far as USA men’s basketball goes, we should probably just start calling him Captain America.