On Sunday, former Nugget Carmelo Anthony and new Nugget Andre Iguodala helped Team USA bring home their second straight gold medal and third straight international tournament championship since Team USA chairman Jerry Colangelo and head coach Mike Krzyzewski revamped America's struggling men's basketball program. Let's congratulate them both as well as their Team USA teammates!
We might very well boo Carmelo Anthony when he returns to Denver with his New York Knicks next March, but in the meantime let's give Melo credit where credit is due: he has helped deliver two straight gold medals for the United States (senior!) men's basketball program.
Going back to 2004, Melo - along with current Olympic teammate LeBron James and 2008 teammate Dwyane Wade - was a member of the first Team USA squad to feature NBA stars and lose at the Olympics as that team embarrassingly dropped games to Lithuania, Argentina ... and Puerto Rico! Knowing that the rent-a-player-for-a-month-before-the-Olympics strategy was no longer working, USA Basketball enlisted former Phoenix Suns owner Jerry Colangelo to take over the program. And one of Colangelo's first orders of business was to get Melo, LeBron and Wade on board for a three year commitment, including the 2006 World Championships in Japan and the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.
Not only did Melo never waiver in his commitment, but he has proven over the years to be a key catalyst for Team USA's success in international play. On the 2006 team that finished with a disappointing bronze in the World Championships, Melo may have been the best player on the team, especially offensively. On the 2008 squad that brought the gold back to the United States, Melo did a lot of the "dirty work" as Wade, LeBron and Kobe Bryant shouldered the offensive load. And this year, Melo seemed to take somewhat of a backseat to Kevin Durant at the starting small forward position, which only seemed to open up Melo's international game more - evident by his 37-point eruption against Nigeria in pool play (a single-game scoring record for Team USA).
Now 28 years old, it will be interesting to see if Melo has another Olympics in him or not. (He may not have a choice if Olympic basketball goes to an "under 23 years old" format as NBA owners are allegedly pushing for, although it seems unlikely that that will happen for the 2016 games in Rio.) But with two golds under his belt combined with his personal professional success in the NBA to date and his NCAA championship at Syracuse, Melo's Hall of Fame credentials continue to accumulate.
Like Melo, new Nugget Andre Iguodala has tasted an international championship more than once now. Even though he hasn't started a single game in international play, Iguodala has contributed well to both the 2010 World Championship team and now the 2012 Olympic gold medal winning team. And Nuggets fans have to believe that his experience in London - having to guard the likes of LeBron, Durant, Melo and Kobe in practice each day - can only be positive for his first season as a Nugget.
So while Melo's time in Denver continues to be a fading memory and Iguodala's is yet to begin, let's congratulate them both on bringing home the gold for Team USA. The world may have caught up somewhat with the Americans, but it's clear that we still produce the best basketball that the world has to offer.
On to the links ...
Can Denver ever lose anger for golden Carmelo Anthony? - Denver Post
Mark Kiszla files another column from London, this time getting Melo on the record about the Iguodala deal, his thoughts on George Karl and more.
Rave reviews for new Nugget Andre Iguodala - Denver Post
Benjamin Hochman talks to Josh Kroenke and others about the newest Nugget addition.
2012 Olympics --Team USA as good as gold again - ESPN
The Americans overcome their size issues to outlast Spain for a second straight gold medal at Olympics, writes Marc Stein.
James and U.S. Basketball Team Secure Another Gold - NYTimes.com
The United States outlasted Spain, 107-100, for its second straight gold medal, with 30 points from Kevin Durant and late heroics from LeBron James in an unexpectedly close game. Here's the recap from Greg Bishop.
Season of LeBron ends with Olympic gold medal - Yahoo! Sports
From Adrian Wojnaworski: LeBron James dominated these Olympics just like he dominated his first NBA championship season.
Talented U.S. prevails vs. Spain, may only get better - SI.com
Chris Mannix gives us three thoughts from Team USA's 107-100 win.