LAS VEGAS -- Some NBA players struggle with rough-and-tumble international basketball.
It seems to bring out the best in Carmelo Anthony, who has also
thrived in the NCAA and NBA.
"I can adjust to all types of games," Anthony said after U.S.
practice Thursday at Valley High School. "I don't need the ball to
be effective. I can go in there and get some rebounds, get some
assists and get some steals and score when I have to.
"I don't really have to try to go out there and score 30, 40
points for this team to win," said Anthony, who has averaged 24.1
points in four NBA seasons. "I can do the little things."
As the Americans prepare for the FIBA Americas tournament next
week, there's been a lot of attention on newcomer Kobe Bryant and
how he'll mesh in the backcourt with LeBron James. But if Anthony
reprises his performance from the world championships last summer,
he might be the glue that holds the Americans together.
"Arguably, Carmelo was the most important player we had last
year," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "I love Carmelo."
The FIBA Americas tourney will be Anthony's seventh with the
United States. At age 20, he played sparingly on the 2004 Olympic
team that settled for a bronze medal in Greece.
He had a bigger role on the world championship team that won a
bronze medal in Japan last summer, serving as a tri-captain with
James and Dwyane Wade.
Anthony led the Americans in scoring, averaging 19.9 points. His
35 points against Italy set a single-game U.S. scoring mark for the
Anthony shot 50.4 percent (64-for-127) from the floor and 44
percent (22-for-50) from beyond the 3-point arc. He also averaged
3.7 rebounds and had 17 steals.
He was selected to the world championships all-tournament team
and was honored as USA Basketball's 2006 Male Athlete of the Year.
Anthony picked up where he left off in an intrasquad scrimmage
in July, scoring a game-high 28 points.
The 23-year-old Anthony has already shown he can perform at the
highest levels of the NCAA -- he led Syracuse to the 2003 national
title as a freshman -- and in the NBA, where he finished a close
second to James in Rookie of the Year voting in 2004.
He has also dominated international play. The 6-foot-8,
230-pound Anthony is well-built for FIBA basketball, where much of
the contact is considered incidental.
"He's so versatile, powerful," Krzyzewski said. "He can
really shoot the heck out of the ball. But he can rebound it. He's
not afraid. He's a kid that's just not afraid."
Krzyzewski said he didn't know Anthony very well before the
forward was invited to join Team USA, but he had a glowing report
from assistant coach Jim Boeheim, who coached Anthony at Syracuse.
"Carmelo's a winner, and he's a heck of a competitor,"
Krzyzewski said. "He plays with courage on both ends of the court.
I'd like him on my team any time."
Anthony's image took a hit when he was suspended 15 games last
season for his part in a brawl between the Nuggets and the New York
Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The unpaid suspension cost Anthony
about $641,000 in salary.
Anthony said he's put the episode behind him. Playing for his
country -- and playing well -- will also help him restore his
"I moved on a long time ago," Anthony said. "I'm back where I
wanted to be, where I'm supposed to be. Now I'm here trying to get
a gold medal. I can't ask for anything better than that."