In the end, it wasn't even up for debate.
The U.S. men's basketball team thoroughly dominated Serbia 96-66 to win the gold medal for the third-straight Olympics. Kevin Durant led the way with 30 points while DeMarcus Cousins put up 13 points and 15 rebounds.
Carmelo Anthony scored seven points and grabbed seven boards. Pedestrian numbers but in the end it didn't matter. This was a team effort in an Olympics where the US had to rely on the entire squad often in order to maintain its place atop the pecking order. The team survived some close calls along the way, but veteran leaders like Melo made sure they didn't them the country, or themselves, down.
Afterward, the Syracuse Orange legend spoke to NBC about what it means to win his third gold medal and fourth medal overall. Melo made it official, saying it was his final Olympics and that it was "something special."
Carmelo Anthony: CAPTAIN AMERICA FOREVER pic.twitter.com/hBvI4RATT8— Rob Perez (@WorId_Wide_Wob) August 21, 2016
Best part of Carmelo Anthony's Postgame interview. More than just basketball. Thank you for this message pic.twitter.com/1VUNe1UfQ7— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) August 21, 2016
Melo ends his Olympic career as the all-time leading scorer in U.S. Olympic men’s basketball history and the only three-time gold medal winner as well.
Anthony said before the game that even if he never wins an NBA Title, he wouldn't trade the experience for anything.
"I wouldn’t trade, hopefully my three gold medals, in for nothing," Anthony told The Vertical. "I hope I’m never put in that position. That’s a tough position. But I always say, ‘Winning is winning is winning.’ No matter what level you win on. Hopefully, I do get an NBA ring, but that’s two things. … I wouldn’t try to compare or force myself to make that comparison."
There will be people who discount that sentiment, especially once the NBA season begins. But there's no discounting what Carmelo has accomplished. We hold the Olympics as the place where each nation sends its best and most-willing to compete on its behalf. Melo answered that call when it had nothing to do with money or advancing a career and everything to do with being a representative as the best we have to offer.
Congrats to Melo (and coaches Jim Boeheim and Mike Hopkins). Syracuse has put its stamp on USA basketball.