Carmelo Anthony is set to appear in his fourth straight Olympics, the first U.S. men’s basketball player to do so. It might not have happened were it not for Jim Boeheim.
The U.S. assistant coach, who was Anthony’s college coach during his one championship season at Syracuse, reached out to his former player after this past NBA season ended. Boeheim wanted to see if Anthony was in for Rio.
“He was squarely on the fence,” Boeheim said Wednesday. “I told him how he’d be good for our team. We knew LeBron [and others] weren’t going to come. It would be great for our team to have you.”
LeBron James had appeared by Anthony’s side at the 2004, ’08 and ’12 Olympics, but withdrew after another long season that carried him into the NBA Finals. Anthony’s New York Knicks missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
“I told him: Look, you’ve had two, three bad years, let’s have a good experience playing basketball,” Boeheim said. “That’s what this is. It’s not easy, but it’s a good test and will be good for him.”
“He had actually had some great points,” Anthony said. “I already knew what he was saying, but it was exciting and motivating coming from somebody like that. Did it have any effect on my decision? Maybe. I had to really think about some of the things he was talking about.”
Boeheim’s pitch helped ease the other concerns Anthony had – the same concerns everyone had about going to Rio.
“Who’s going to be on the team and the same worries everyone else has,” Anthony said. “I watch the news, what you write about Brazil — the economy, the viruses. Those things definitely came into play about my decision.”