Carmelo Anthony Details 2004 Olympics Pact with LeBron Against Jefferson, Marion

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2020

USA's LeBron James (6), left, and Carmelo Anthony (15) walk off the floor as Greece's team celebrates in the background, following the semifinals of the World Basketball Championships in Saitama, Japan, Friday, Sept. 1, 2006. Greece defeated USA 101-95. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
MARK J. TERRILL/Associated Press

While future Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony is known for his Olympic accomplishments as a three-time gold medalist, his first experience at the Games was not ideal.  

His team won the bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, which was nothing but a disappointment by American basketball standards. Anthony, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were some of the youngsters on that team who didn't play as much as veterans such as Stephon Marbury, Allen Iverson, Shawn Marion and Richard Jefferson.

That clearly didn't sit well with Anthony or James.

During an interview with Sue Bird and Uninterrupted, Anthony recalled the time he and James made a pact to go after Jefferson and Marion whenever they had the chance because they were the small forwards who played over the two stars at those Olympics (around 14-minute mark, NSFW language).

Anthony said they went after them in individual matchups in later games but also at Team USA practices in an effort to prove the point the better players weren't on the court.

"That's the Michael Jordan in Melo," Maverick Carter, who is James' business partner, said. "He used Richard Jefferson and Marion starting over him as motivation to bust their ass."

The idea of Jordan looking for slights like that as motivation, even if they were imagined or invented, has been a central theme in ESPN's The Last Dance documentary. Sunday's episodes told stories of Jordan attacking Dan Majerle during the 1993 NBA Finals even harder than usual because he heard Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause, who was no favorite of MJ's, liked Majerle's defensive ability.

There was also an Olympic story.

Toni Kukoc was the leader of the Croatian team at the 1992 Games, and at the time, Krause was negotiating with him to come to the Bulls. Scottie Pippen also wanted a new contract, and Jordan made a point of making sure he and his Chicago teammate went after Kukoc whenever they could even though the Croatian leader was unaware of the tension in the Windy City.

The United States defeated Kukoc's team in the gold-medal game, and Anthony helped continue the gold-medal tradition in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Games.

He was the second-leading scorer behind only Kevin Durant in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and no longer had to worry about Jefferson and Marion playing over him.