Predictably, Anthony sees more colors than U.S. gold

Humbled Towson Catholic alum backs off assuring a gold medal

Athens 2004

Athens Olympics

August 14, 2004|By Laura Vecsey | Laura Vecsey,SUN STAFF

ATHENS - Forget the guarantee: Carmelo Anthony is no Joe Namath after all.

All it took was a stunning loss to Italy and a close call against Germany in pre-Olympic exhibitions to show Anthony the U.S. basketball team is not a lock for Olympic gold.

Speaking with the international press yesterday after coach Larry Brown kept the team in Turkey for an extra practice, Anthony humbly rescinded his earlier decree.

"I don't think I guaranteed the gold medal. I said if we played to our level, we'd have as good a shot as anyone," said Anthony, the former Towson Catholic standout.

No one could blame Anthony, 20, for feeling indomitable. He was the NCAA Final Four Most Oustanding Player after leading Syracuse to the 2003 national title as a freshman.

Then, as a rookie with the Denver Nuggets, Anthony led that franchise to its first playoff appearance since 1994.

There's apparently no end to ways in which Anthony can impress. Olympic assistant coach Gregg Popovich said yesterday that he is surprised to find Anthony "even more skilled" than billed.

"It's been amazing the last 18 months, but this is the ultimate," Anthony said.

Still, some of Brown's prudent pessimism seems to be rubbing off on the young Americans, who face several obstacles in their Olympic quest.

"Hopefully, we've got all our struggles out of our system," Anthony said.

The United States has had two weeks to practice, a disadvantage compared with other countries, such as Argentina, which has been together for 10 years.

Also, international rules and the increased skill of opponents have diminished the odds of a U.S. victory. "Are we the Dream Team? That's not our choice to call ourselves that, but we'll roll with it," he said.

Anthony seems no less eager for the competition to start. He was a late addition to the team but said there was no doubt he was coming once he was asked.

"As a kid, you watched the Olympics when they came around," he said. "Nothing else was on TV. No cartoons, nothing. You only watched the Olympics: boxing, track and field."

Add basketball to the list, even if this "Dream Team" is no longer making guarantees.

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