Carmelo Anthony is the unquestioned leader of the United States men's basketball team in this year's Olympics. He is also appearing in his fourth Olympics, something no other U.S. men's basketball player has ever done, and in the third game of group play on Wednesday he became the all-time leading scorer in U.S. Olympic history.
Anthony, who started the game 11 points shy of LeBron James' record of 273 points, quickly matched that by making four of his first five shots, including his team's first nine points on three three-pointers. With about a minute left in the first quarter, he hit another three to put himself in sole possession of the record. He finished with 31 points, making nine of his 15 three-point attempts and grabbing eight rebounds in the win against Australia, giving his team a 3-0 record to start the tournament.
31 points, 9 threes & the new #USABMNT all-time scoring leader in Olympic play! pic.twitter.com/37s5cHha2O— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) August 11, 2016
After solidifying himself as the most prolific scorer in the country's Olympic history, it is just another milestone to add to his international resume. He is also the all-time leader in multiple career and single game statistics for the Red, White and Blue. Here is a list of all of the records he currently sits atop of, via USAB.com:
|Points (Single Game)||37 (08/02/12 vs. Nigeria)|
|3PM (Single Game)||10 (08/02/12 vs. Nigeria)|
|FTM (Single Game)||13 (08/22/08 vs. Argentina)|
|FT % (Single Game)||100% (13-13 on 08/22/08 vs. Argentina)|
With all of these records in place, Melo has a chance to not only extend the ones that he holds, but also climb into first in other categories. He is second in career field goals made with 93, 18 shy of Michael Jordan, and his 101 rebounds leave him behind only David Robinson's 124. If he keeps up this pace and the U.S. plays the maximum eight games, Anthony could also approach Kevin Durant's records for three-pointers attempted and made in a single Olympics.
Only six times has a U.S. basketball player scored 30 points in an Olympic game. After Wednesday, Anthony became the first to do it twice. Trailing by three heading into the fourth, Anthony stayed mellow and scored 14 points in the final quarter. While he made 11 of his 21 shots and 66.7% of his threes, the rest of the U.S. combined to shoot 34.8% from the field and make only eight of their 24 threes, one less than Anthony was able to do by himself. Without his strong start and finish, the U.S. could have lost the game and fallen to second place in Group A. However, their leader would not let that happen and it seems like nobody can stop him in his pursuit of a third gold medal.
The past three NBA seasons have been extremely rough for Anthony as his New York Knicks have won just 86 of 246 games and missed the playoffs in each of those years. It is nice to see him winning again and his hot stretch in a non-series tournament format will make Syracuse Orange fans reminisce about his NCAA run in 2003. One could make the case that this is the first time Anthony has been the undisputed leader of a championship-caliber team since that 2003 Syracuse squad.
Whether you believe he is the best player in Team USA history or he is just benefitting from playing more games than anybody else on loaded teams, you can't deny how fun it is to watch Melo play on this stage and how much passion he has as a leader of his country. What other people have to say doesn't seem to bother him. If his facial expressions on teammates' SnapChat videos didn't get the point across, Anthony came to Rio strictly for business reasons.
"We want to win," Anthony said, via USAToday's Sam Amick. "We want to send a message to the rest of the world that we're here on business, we're focused on winning, and that's what we care about. We don't want to let nothing come in between that."
With all of these records he already holds and the others that are within his grasp, only one really matters. No other USA player has participated in four Olympics. Nobody has ever won three gold medals. If he can lead his country to victory, only then will he complete the Olympic legacy he set out to create.