Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pressure on Carmelo

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pressure on Carmelo

Article excerpt

Carmelo Anthony has happily taken on the role of elder statesman, a leader, for the U.S. men's basketball team as the squad has prepared for today's start of the Rio Olympics. But as a leader, he also would set himself up for blame if something goes wrong.

While the current team is missing many of the best players in the game, the United States still is the overwhelming favorite to take home the gold. And with that status, Anthony, along with his red, white and blue-adorned teammates, have the pressure to perform or join the teams who have failed.

Anthony is familiar with the feeling, having been a part of the 2004 U.S. team that settled for bronze. The Knicks' star was just 20 years old, and along with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, represented a new wave of talent -- a group that was relegated to the far end of the bench as coach Larry Brown tried to entrust the team to veterans who would adapt to his style of play.

Brown feuded with Stephon Marbury, Allen Iverson was the oldest player on the roster and -- like this summer -- many of the most talented players in the NBA opted to skip the Games. They suffered the most one-sided defeat U.S.A. Basketball has endured in the first game -- a 19-point loss to Puerto Rico -- and also lost to Lithuania and Argentina before beating Lithuania in the consolation game.

Could that happen again to Team USA with James, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Anthony Davis and many others opting to stay home rather than spend their summer vacation in Rio? Well, not likely.

The U.S. squad still is loaded with talent, including Kevin Durant and his new Golden State Warriors teammates, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. The big men, DeAndre Jordan and DeMarcus Cousins, are athletic and talented in ways that can't be matched by other countries. The depth and talent on the wings -- Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan and Paul George -- is frightening. …

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