Orange Watch: Syracuse basketball’s connection to the Olympic Games

Oct. 14, 2014; Syracuse, New York, USA; Former Syracuse forward Jerami Grant (L) and guard Michael Carter-Williams (R) sit on the sideline during a Philadelphia 76ers preseason game at The Carrier Dome. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Item: With former Syracuse standout Jerami Grant (2012-14) and his U.S.A. Basketball teammates seeking to defend the men’s gold medal in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics (July 23-August 8), it’s the fifth straight Olympic games a past Orange player has participated on the U.S. team. Grant becomes the third member of the ‘Cuse basketball program to compete or coach on the Olympic Games world stage. Carmelo Anthony’s (see below) Olympic records will be tough to top, and, of course, Jim Boeheim superbly assisted Mike Krzyzewski on three gold medal winning teams.

How impressive is it that Grant, the 39th player selected overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2014, after his seventh year in the NBA, earned a spot on the 12-man Olympic roster?

It’s certainly an out-of-nowhere development after signing a three-year $60 million contract with Detroit last November after a sign-and-trade deal with Denver. Averaging a career-high 22.3 ppg, playing nearly 34 minutes per game for a 20-52 Pistons team that was at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, and showing his versatility, Grant will be counted on to play tough defense, hit treys when he has open looks (35% last season), and also driving to the hoop to score.

“I was blessed when I got the call,” Grant told the Detroit Free Press last week about his reaction to the ultimate honor to how he has transformed his game. “This is going to benefit me, being around a group of guys that are this talented, being able to pick up the little things that they do, watching their movements and observing, things like that. It only can help me for my future.”

While Grant is just starting his international career, at the other end of the spectrum is Anthony, the most statistically accomplished Olympian in U.S.A. Basketball history.

A four-time member of Team U.S.A. (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016) with three gold medals, Anthony is the U.S.A. Basketball career Olympic leader in the following categories:

  • Games Played (31)
  • Scoring (336)
  • Field Goals Made (113)
  • Field Goals Attempted (262)
  • 3-Point Field Goals Attempted (139)
  • Free Throws Made (53)
  • Free Throws Attempted (71)
  • Rebounds (125)

But Anthony is still an NBA title away, with the sunset approaching on his professional career, from joining the most exclusive club in U.S.A. Basketball annals. Only eight players have won an NCAA championship, NBA championship, and Olympic gold medal in their careers.

» Related: This year’s Boeheim’s Army has potential to be special

That select list (College/NBA/Olympic Games) in alphabetical order:

  • Quinn Buckner-Indiana/Boston Celtics/1976 Montreal
  • Anthony Davis-Kentucky/Los Angeles Lakers/2012 London
  • Magic Johnson-Michigan State/Los Angeles Lakers/1992 Barcelona
  • K.C. Jones-San Francisco/Boston Celtics/1956 Melbourne
  • Michael Jordan-North Carolina/Chicago Bulls/1984 Los Angeles-1992 Barcelona
  • Clyde Lovellette-Kansas/Minneapolis Lakers-Boston Celtics/1952 Helsinki
  • Jerry Lucas-Ohio State/New York Knicks/1960 Rome
  • Bill Russell-San Francisco/Boston Celtics/1956 Melbourne

After a first-round playoff exit in 2021, will Portland re-sign Anthony for a third time to try and win that elusive NBA crown? He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer, but both sides have to be on the same page that he’s limited to a specialty role off the bench, providing enough of a spark offensively, while not being a liability defensively to play effectively in his 19th NBA season.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.