Olympics a haven for former Syracuse star Carmelo Anthony

When the public thinks of Carmelo Anthony, they generally think of a talented basketball player who can’t win big and shoots too much.

When I think of Carmelo Anthony, I think of someone who re-established Syracuse on the basketball map—in addition to, of course, a talented NBA player who can’t win big and at times shoots too much.

Are those fair assumptions? That’s debatable. The above description could very well apply to Anthony in the NBA. But in the Olympics, he’s a different story. He makes Syracuse even prouder in these Games.

anthony_olympics

Anthony has been lethal in the Olympics

For SU, Anthony is crucial. He led the team to its only national title in 2003, and has the basketball center named after him. He may have only spent one year in Orange, but what a year it was.

This, though, we all know. But what about Anthony in the Olympics? Along with Jim Boeheim and Mike Hopkins, Anthony is a part of Team USA basketball. That should not be overlooked.

He’s one of the squad’s elder statesmen, along with Knicks teammate Tyson Chandler. It’s easy to forget any mishaps he may have made throughout his NBA career when he puts on a steady, team-oriented performance in these Games.

» More SU basketball: Carmelo Anthony No. 9 on the all time list

Said Don Markus of The Baltimore Sun: “Being a member of the U.S. Olympic team — at least the last two of them — has been Anthony’s haven.”

The Olympics represent a chance for Anthony to be the hero that everyone envisioned him being when he left Syracuse. He exploded for a team-high 37 points in Thursday’s drubbing of Nigeria, shooting an absurd 13-of-16 from the field while going 10-of-12 from three-point range. And against Tunisia on Tuesday, Anthony had 16 points to tie for the team lead while shooting 6-of-6 from the field.

Maybe I’m biased toward Anthony and think he is better than he really is because he went to Syracuse and won a title there in one spectacular season. But for all his talked-about struggles, the guy deserves a little credit for rescuing the Denver Nuggets out of the Western Conference cellar and into the NBA Playoffs on a consistent basis. Even LeBron James just got his first ring, and he has a much better supporting cast on the Heat than Anthony did with the Nuggets and does now with the Knicks.

One to stand up for his guys, Boeheim was quoted in that same Sun article showing his support for his former star.

“He’s never been a selfish player,” Boeheim said. “At Syracuse, he took shots because we wanted him to be the scorer.”

In the Olympics, Anthony is not the star. The team has LeBron and Kevin Durant for that role. But he’s a suddenly savvy veteran player who can contribute handily. A new role? Yes. But a role that may suit him to a T.

Perhaps Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski said it best about ‘Melo: “Team USA is constructed to take all of ‘Melo’s good, and never been burdened with the bad.

» Related: Anthony named to U.S. Olympic Team

“For the needs of USA’s Olympic team, Anthony plays the part of the perfect FIBA forward: An impossible matchup on the perimeter for power forwards, the beneficiary of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James to attract defenders and genius point guard talents to deliver passes.”

Before his team-leading performances against Nigeria and Tunisia, Anthony had nine points off the bench on 3-of-10 shooting in the opener against France. Amazing? Far from it. But he also chipped in with nine rebounds. Even when he’s not scoring, he’s contributing.

And his experience from two previous Olympic games—one a disappointment (2004) and one a fulfillment (2008), should drive him this time around.

At Syracuse, the Orange has been blessed with basketball greats. There’s no need to start listing off the names. But as great as anyone to suit up in orange and white has been, ‘Melo may be the most famous of them all. And to see him play a role in these 2012 Games while quietly succeeding feels like redemption. Redemption for Anthony, his pundits, and the fans.

Carmelo Anthony: National championship winner. And carrying on the flag of SU at the Olympics. It’s something that Syracuse fans should be proud of. Because he’ll certainly see more success with this squad than with those Knickerbockers.

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Rachel Marcus

About Rachel Marcus

Rachel is currently a Digital Production Assistant at ESPN. She has previously interned at SportsNet New York and has contributed to Dime Magazine and covered beats ranging from Big East basketball to men’s soccer for The Daily Orange. She is originally from Maryland. Follow her on Twitter @racmar.
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