Why is Carmelo Anthony truly Mr. Team USA?

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There is something quite romantic about Carmelo Anthony and his irrepressible desire to represent his country on the basketball court.

Over the past 12 years, the 32-year-old forward has been a constant for Team USA and by in large, success has followed. He earned gold in 2012 in London, 2008 in Beijing, and he also collected a lesser-spoken about bronze in 2004 in Athens, when he was just 20-years-old.

The sharp-shooting small forward has always made time for Team USA. Melo has a brooding patriotism that manifests in any kind of role that side can throw at him.

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Whether he was the dynamic, young and fearless offensive weapon he was in Athens, or the well-polished and guiding force he served as in London, Anthony has evolved with the side and proved to be effective in any capacity.

Starting small forward or contributing sixth man; it doesn't matter.

Some of the names that will skip the trip to Brazil this summer include LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis. The reasons vary, but it's fair to say some of those stars, and many others that are not named, consider the endeavour a 'tour of duty' rather than the pursuit of glory.

That's understandable. After all, how many nations can even compete with Team USA on the hardwood? The London incarnation of the team won its games by an average of 32.1 points.

So, bar the stars and stripes, why does Melo loves playing for Team USA so much? He was on stage with his three best friends in the game - LeBron, Paul and Dwyane Wade - at the ESPY awards less than a week ago, and that trio of superstars are content to sit it out this summer.

Conventional thinking would assume Anthony would be too, but let's delve a little deeper.

According to, if you factor in all the FIBA qualifying tournaments, junior world championships and the 2001 youth development festival, Anthony has six medals in all. He has played on 12 USA Basketball teams, appearing in 72 games and averaging 15.3 points and 4.0 rebounds across the lot of them.

They go on to mention that in terms of U.S. Olympic records, Anthony ranks first for 3-pointers made (39) and attempted (94). He is second in shots taken (188), third in games played (23), fourth in total points (239 and fourth in total rebounds (83). This summer, if he adds at least 36 shots, two appearances, 35 points and 42 rebounds, he'll move to the top in those categories too to cement his legacy as an all-time American great.

Anthony insists that, contrary to what a lot of people think, he doesn't find representing Team USA away from the big bucks of the NBA a chore. In fact, he relishes the prospect, and as the clear veteran of the side being two years clear of the next eldest star, Melo believes he can be an effective guide for the young troops.

"A lot of people told me 'Don't do it. Don't do it. For what?' I actually enjoy it. I've been part of USA basketball since I was a junior or senior in high school. I actually enjoy it.

"It's a new a new batch of guys," he said. "I get a chance to go out there and kind of be the leader of the team. Lead these guys and kind of enjoy it. For me, it's about going over there and having fun. Getting that fun feeling back, getting enjoyment back.

"And it's time to get another gold medal."

Ah, that last point is the crux of his endearment towards the jersey. Perhaps Team USA represents the franchise he wishes he represented.

Sure, the New York Knicks have made some impressive strides this offseason, but are they really all of a sudden heavyweight contenders after dropping 115 games in the past two years?

He may well be a nine-time All-Star and was the 2013 scoring champion, but he hasn't even come close to hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy during his career, the very thing Kevin Durant has just left OKC and joined the Golden State Warriors for.

He hasn't been to the NBA Finals before. He did make the Western Conference Finals in his penultimate season with the Denver Nuggets, but Kobe Bryant and the L.A. Lakers would dash his dreams that time around.

In nine trips to the playoffs, Anthony has exited at the first round seven times. Furthermore, for the past three years, he hasn't made it at all.

He may well have renewed with the Knicks in the name of money, but could it be that Team USA is the necessary success that helps him sleep at night?

Or, hell, maybe he just really loves his country.

LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
Eastern Conference
Derrick Rose
Chicago Bulls
Derrick Rose
New York Knicks
Atlantic Division
Chris Paul
L.A. Clippers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
Dwyane Wade
Miami Heat
Southeast Division
Carmelo Anthony

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