Carmelo Anthony will be a Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer someday. Between what he accomplished in college, his individual scoring numbers in the NBA, and his time with USA Basketball in three Olympics, he is deserving of the honor.
The one thing he hasn’t accomplished in the game is to win an NBA title. To remedy this, Anthony signed with the Los Angeles Lakers for the 2021-22 season. If he can do so, he’ll join an incredible eight-member club. One of his new teammates, Anthony Davis, is already in the exclusive group. However, his good friend LeBron James will never be able to make the list.
Carmelo Anthony is trying to join a club that LeBron James can’t get into because he didn’t go to college
Anthony was the No. 1 high school recruit in 2002 in ESPN’s Top 100, ahead of well-known names like Amar’e Stoudamire (No. 2), Chris Bosh (No. 13), JJ Redick (No. 37), and Deron Williams (No. 100). He chose to play for coach Jim Boeheim at Syracuse. The team won the 2002-03 NCAA national championship, beating Kansas in the final game 81-78.
The Oak Hill Academy star parlayed his college success into becoming the No. 3 overall pick in the star-studded 2003 NBA Draft behind James and Darko Milicic. Anthony played seven-plus seasons with the Denver Nuggets before forcing a trade to the New York Knicks. After six-plus seasons in the Big Apple, Melo played a season in Houston, another in Oklahoma City, and two more in Portland.
All told, Anthony has put together a Hall of Fame NBA career. He has made 10 All-Star Games and seven All-NBA teams, and he is 10th all-time in career NBA points with 27,370 (second on the active list behind James).
Despite all the individual success, Anthony has never played in an NBA Finals. However, he has found success in international basketball, winning Olympic gold medals for Team USA in 2008, 2012, and 2016.
Now, at 37, Anthony signed with the Los Angeles Lakers for the 2021-22 season hoping to win an NBA championship. If he does, he will join an exclusive list of just eight players in basketball history who’ve won an NCAA championship, an Olympic gold medal, and the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
The eight players who’ve won NCAA, NBA, and Olympic championships
Being a champion in college, the pros, and on an international stage is incredibly rarefied air. The current list, which Carmelo Anthony is looking to join as the ninth member, is as follows:
- Clyde Lovellette – 1952 NCAA championship with University of Kansas, 1952 gold medal in Helsinki, Finland, NBA championships with the Minneapolis Lakers in 1954 and Boston Celtics in 1963 and 1964.
- Bill Russell – 1955 and 1956 NCAA championships with University of San Francisco, 1956 gold medal in Melbourne, Australia, NBA championships with the Boston Celtics in 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, and 1969.
- K.C. Jones – 1955 and 1956 NCAA championships with University of San Francisco, 1956 gold medal in Melbourne, Australia, NBA championships with the Boston Celtics in 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, and 1966.
- Jerry Lucas – 1960 NCAA championship with Ohio State, 1960 gold medal in Rome, Italy, NBA championship with the New York Knicks in 1973.
- Quinn Buckner – 1960 NCAA championship with University of Indiana, 1976 gold medal in Montreal, Canada, NBA championship with the Boston Celtics in 1984.
- Magic Johnson– 1982 NCAA championships with Michigan State University, 1992 gold medal in Barcelona, Spain, NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988.
- Michael Jordan– 1982 NCAA championship with University of North Carolina, 1984 and 1992 gold medals in LA, California and Barcelona, Spain, NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, and 1998.
- Anthony Davis – 2012 NCAA championships with University of Kentucky, 2012 gold medal in London, England, NBA championship with the LA Lakers in 2020.
That is the group Anthony will be trying to join when he suits up in the iconic Purple and Gold next season.
Anthony is the latest NBA player to join the Lakers late in their career to try to win a title
While trying to become just the ninth player to win those three major titles is something not many players can do, joining the LA Lakers to chase a title late in a career is not nearly as unique.
The most well-known examples are Karl Malone (40 years old at the time) and Gary Payton (35), who played with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in Hollywood during the 2003-04 season. The team lost 4-1 to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals, and neither player ever got a ring.
The strategy did work for Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo, who came to LA from the ages of 30 to 34 and won titles in 1982 and 1985. Mychal Thompson (32-36) spent the last several years of his career in The Forum and won in 1987 and 1988.
Mitch Richmond (36) won his first and only NBA title in his lone season with the Lakers. He won the 2002 NBA championship and promptly retired.
Steve Nash (38-39) joined the Lakers in his last seasons, as well. He chased a championship in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. Those teams lost in the opening round of the playoffs the first year and missed the postseason altogether in the second.
Dwight Howard came to the West Coast with dreams of a title the same year Nash did, but to no avail. However, he returned in 2019-20 and won a ring in the NBA bubble at age 34.
Now it’s Carmelo Anthony’s turn. The difference is, if he wins a ring, he will join some of the greatest of all time.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference