USA Basketball 2012: 3 USA Basketball Stars Who Need Gold Medal Boost to Legacy

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 29:  Lebron James #6 of United States points during their Men's Basketball Game against France on Day 2 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena on July 29, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

A gold medal earned from competing in the Olympics as a member of Team USA is a critical necessity for any NBA great looking to legitimize his legacy.

There are three players on this year’s Team USA squad that desperately need a gold medal in 2012 to provide a much-needed boost to their respective legacies. Gold medals can be perceived as harder to attain than NBA championships or individual accolades, so earning one is especially remarkable.

Of course, the 2012 Team USA roster has plenty of players that don’t need a medal this year to help their legacy. For example, Kobe Bryant’s legacy would be just fine if he missed out on one this year. Likewise, Kevin Durant still has plenty of time to legitimize his legacy.

However, for these three players, there is a certain sense of urgency to add a gold medal to their collection:

Andre Iguodala

Andre Iguodala is without an Olympic gold medal, although he does have a gold medal from the 2012 FIBA World Championship in Turkey.

Adding an Olympic gold medal would do wonders for his legacy. Iggy is one of the best defenders in all of basketball, and has been for some time. He is not a dynamic scorer, but his role on the team is crucial in 2012.

Iggy is 28 now, and his NBA championship window is slowly closing. At this point, a gold medal is much more obtainable for the defensive specialist. So this year’s Olympic Games will either solidify Iguodala’s legacy or leave his trophy shelf dusty.

Carmelo Anthony

Anthony is another player that has failed to win an NBA championship, despite being one of the league’s elite players.

He does have an Olympic gold medal from the Beijing in 2008. For what it’s worth, he has a Bronze medal from Team USA’s disappointing showing in Athens in 2004, too.

The championship window for Anthony as a member of the New York Knicks is the furthest thing from closed. But a player of his caliber would leave behind a disappointing legacy if he did not have at least one NBA title and two or more Olympic gold medals.

Anthony is an integral part of Team USA’s aspirations in London this year, and his performance will have a lasting impact on his legacy.

LeBron James

King James has a bronze medal from the 2004 Olympic games in Athens, a gold medal from the 2008 Olympic games and an NBA title from just last year as the leader of the Miami Heat.

That’s not even close to enough.

James is the best player in the world. He's “The Chosen One.” His legacy will forever be directly compared to Michael Jordan’s pristine body of work.

Jordan won gold in every international tournament he competed in, which includes two Olympic gold medals. James has already failed once in the aforementioned 2004 Games. If James can win a gold this year, he will have as many as Jordan.

Even that won’t be enough, but it is a start. James has a very long basketball career in front of him. If he is to hold a candle to Jordan’s legacy, a gold this year is a must. He may not have a chance for gold again.