Team USA has seen a number of star players withdraw from the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, but New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony won't join those sitting out.
Anthony, 32, has played in each of the last three Summer Olympics for Team USA. He was part of the bronze-medal team in 2004 before returning in 2008 and 2012 for gold-medal runs. His 16.3 points per game in London were second on the roster behind Kevin Durant.
The three Olympic medals tie Anthony with LeBron James and David Robinson for the most in U.S. men's history. Gennadi Volnov and Sergei Belov of the former USSR hold the all-time record with four Olympic medals. Theirs came before the U.S. allowed professional basketball players to compete in the Games.
With James "leaning toward not competing at the Olympics," according to Chris Mannix of The Vertical, Anthony can become the first three-time gold medalist in men's basketball history. Teresa Edwards (five medals) and Lisa Leslie (four medals) are the only other United States players with at least four medals.
While there was no question Anthony would make the roster if he wanted to play, a combination of age and injuries left his status up in the air. Anthony attended minicamp last summer but did not participate because of a lingering knee injury. He returned to play 72 games in the 2015-16 NBA campaign, dealing with knee soreness throughout the season.
That said, there was still hope Anthony would choose to participate in the Olympics given his frustrations in New York. The Knicks are 49-115 over the last two seasons and have missed the playoffs in three straight. With his NBA miles adding up and the chances at a title dwindling, Anthony clearly misses being part of a successful team.
He talked about it with Marc Berman of the New York Post:
From a morale standpoint as a player, if you've been through the things I've been through the past couple of years, you want to feel what that success feels like. The Olympics for me is great timing for me, especially coming off this season and injuries, and mentally it's good for me to get out there and feel what that feels like again.
That desire was apparently enough motivation for Anthony to add his stamp as Team USA's elder statesman. Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Dwyane Wade and James Harden already withdrew their names from consideration. It's clear Team USA is going to look far different than the 2012 outfit that won in London, with a new generation taking hold.
There is also ongoing concern over the Zika virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list the mosquito-borne illness as a Level 2 concern, meaning travelers are to "practice enhanced precautions" when traveling to Brazil. Zika is especially dangerous to women who are pregnant or who can become pregnant, as it's known to cause birth defects.
Because the disease can also be transmitted through sexual activity, men carrying the Zika virus can transmit it to women without knowing. Only one in five people infected show signs, according to WebMD.
None of those concerns was enough to hold Anthony out. We'll have to see if his close friend LeBron follows suit or if the rigors of a sixth straight NBA Finals appearance keep him stateside.