Swapping an NBA jersey for the Team USA’s blue and white uniform is a symbolic moment for most players. For Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, the opportunity to represent the stars and stripes was a life altering experience that came at pivotal points in their respective careers.
On Monday afternoon, the 20 finalists were announced for the 2012 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team. Anthony and Chandler find themselves on the elite list that will be pared down to the 12-man roster for the Olympics this summer in London.
Anthony details the importance of the Olympics from a personal standpoint, “It was a big pinnacle in my career and life. You know, having that second chance to go over there and redeem ourselves as a team, as players, and as a country, that was big for us.”
In 2004, Anthony’s group finished 5-3 and won the bronze medal, which by USA standards was not acceptable and that crop of players banded together over the following four years to bring back the gold.
He added, “People don’t remember, I was with USA basketball when we are at the low of the low – we were underground. We had to work our way back. So, now we are going over there to reclaim our spot.”
Next to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Kobe Bryant, Anthony helped deliver the elusive 2008 gold medal and the Knicks All-Star is motivated to topple the World again. Sporting the braids four years ago, Anthony played a major role for the 2008 squad, averaging a team fourth best, 11 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
“We are representing our respective cities and teams at the end of the day but it’s bigger than that,” Anthony explained. “We are representing the country, USA when we go over there and when you see the flag, you really feel how intense that is and you really understand what the flag means at the end of the day.”
With a chance to run side-by-side with Anthony in 2012, New York’s defensive anchor also owns Team USA familiarity. Chandler captured the 2010 FIBA World Championship and recalls the time spent outside of his country, “When you grow up as a kid and your dreams are to make to the NBA and play in our league. Then, you get the opportunity to go overseas and you realize the game has become a world game, and you are playing in front of fans at a world level, it amazes you.”
Chandler is ecstatic to potentially suit up next to his new teammate, “For me and Melo to team up, it would be a great deal not only for ourselves and our family but also for Knicks basketball.”
The 2012 coaching will include New York head man Mike D’Antoni and the official roster will be announced later this year. There is doubt that Anthony and Chandler respect the process and hope to create another set of memories this summer.
“Mr. Colangelo and Coack K took chance on my career and saw something in me that a lot of people didn’t see. My first opportunity to play with the Olympic team, I was amongst some great players and my second time around, I played a bigger role. And, this time around, I plan on doing the same but I owe a lot to them and I will do whatever they ask 100 percent and definitely do it with a smile.”
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