Carmelo Anthony’s role as a leader is more evident now more than ever, and not just on the basketball court.
Carmelo Anthony is attempting to lead Team USA to its third straight gold medal in the Rio 2016 Olympics next month.
Many NBA superstars did not commit to this year’s national team for various reasons including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook.
Melo, though, was in.
“A lot of people told me ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it,’ For what?” Anthony said. “But I actually enjoy it. I’ve been apart of USA Basketball since I was a junior or senior [in college]. I actually enjoy it, and it’s an opportunity to get another gold medal. I didn’t want to miss that opportunity. And you don’t have the same role as your own team. That’s why guys like playing on the USA team because they don’t have to do as much. They just have a role and rely on everyone else – the best players in the world.”
The star forward for the New York Knicks will also achieve a milestone that no player for Team USA has ever accomplished. He will be the first US Olympian to appear in four Summer Games. If the team wins gold, the small forward will also become the first men’s USA basketball player to win three gold medals.
Team USA is dominating the competition per usual, defeating Argentina 111-74 and China 106-57 in its first two exhibition games.
In addition to leading Team USA, Anthony along with Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James used their superstar status on the ESPYs earlier this month to address the unjust police shootings of black men.
This message was felt nationwide as the four called for action by both parties to find solutions on how to make our country safer and create change.
To take the speech even further, Anthony organized a meeting with community leaders, athletes and politicians in Los Angeles to discuss the topic.
“You have to keep the conversation going and dialogue going,” Anthony said. “If you don’t, then you just become another tragedy that happens that everybody forgot about.”
Anthony recognizes how numb society has gotten to the tragedies that have taken place and how easy it is to get distracted from the task at hand.
If that isn’t enough, Anthony has also criticized the WNBA for fining teams and players who wore black t-shirts in response to the recent shootings by and against police officers. Several players of the Indiana Fever, New York Liberty and Phoenix Mercury participated in the act.
“I don’t see why there would be a reason for those ladies to get fined,” Anthony stated. “Everybody has freedom of speech. This is a platform right now where everyone is affected and everyone shows their frustrations in different ways. And I don’t even think it was frustration on their behalf.”
The WNBA fined each team $5,000 and each player $500 because the shirts violated the league’s uniform policy. The WNBA received heavy backlash and scrutiny for imposing fines upon the teams and players that were involved. Since then, the league has decided to rescind the fines.
Anthony is being adamant about being in the forefront of the change that he wants to see in our country. Maybe that is what inspired Michael Jordan to bring awareness to the situation as well by donating $2 million to organizations that are bridging the gap between law enforcement and the communities in which they serve.
When asked about Jordan’s comments, Anthony called it “brilliant and about time.”
Anyone who uses their brand to raise awareness about a serious and sensitive topic as such as this one is a part of the solution and not the problem.
Carmelo Anthony will have helped our country in two ways; assuming the role of vocal leader for Team USA and being an advocate for social justice in our country.
Sports are often used as an escape from the realities of the world. Those few hours spent watching the event brings people of all races, religion and sexuality together for one cause.
It takes you away from the discrimination, inequality and tension that some people face on a daily basis.
Will more athletes step up and share their opinions and resources to assist the call to action made by Anthony on the many issues facing our country? Only time will tell.
Carmelo Anthony and Team USA continues their exhibition schedule against China again on Tuesday at 10:00PM ET on NBATV.