Carmelo Anthony, the all-time U.S. men’s Olympic leading points scorer and the only male basketball player with three Olympic gold medals, reportedly expressed interest in unretiring from international play for next month’s FIBA World Cup.
The interest was not mutual from USA Basketball.
“I love Carmelo,” USA Basketball Managing Director Jerry Colangelo said at this week’s pre-World Cup training camp in Las Vegas, according to SI.com. “He made a great contribution. He was a very good international player. But for where we are and what we’re doing, that conceivably could have been a distraction. I understand why the request was made. He’s trying to reestablish himself. I think that has to be done in the [NBA].”
Anthony, 35, is a free agent and has not played in the NBA since his Houston Rockets tenure ended 10 games into last season.
Next year, Anthony will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic men’s basketball player. Larry Bird owns the age record of 35 from when he played on the Dream Team.
Anthony announced his retirement from Olympic basketball, and it was assumed international play altogether, moments after the Rio gold-medal game.
“I know this is the end. This is it for me,” Anthony said on NBC on Aug. 21, 2016, adding later, “I think I’ve given enough to Team USA Basketball. As much as I’m going to miss it, it’s time to pass it along to some of the guys who was on our team this year, but also to the younger guys coming along and give them an opportunity to be a part of something great. So, for me I’m hanging these [shoes] up, USA Basketball-wise.”
In what has become custom for the World Cup, nearly all of the 2016 U.S. Olympians bowed out of the selection pool this summer. Two — Harrison Barnes and Kyle Lowry — are among the 15 national-team players in camp this week, after which the 12-man World Cup roster will be named.
The U.S. will qualify for the Olympics if it is among the top two teams from North and South America at the World Cup. If the U.S. fails to achieve that, it can still qualify at a last-chance tournament in 2020.
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