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Carmelo Anthony: If I don’t win an NBA title, I can still say I had great career

Olympics Day 16 - Basketball

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Carmelo Anthony #15 of the United States celebrates winning the Men’s Basketball gold medal game between the United States and Spain on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympics Games at North Greenwich Arena on August 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

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Carmelo Anthony won a national championship at Syracuse. He has won two Olympic gold medals, and he’s trying for a third in Rio. He has made nine All-Star games and six All-NBA teams and won a scoring title. He’ll earn more than $260 million in his career, and his next contract could raise that total significantly.

But he hasn’t won an NBA title.

Anthony, via Marc Stein of ESPN:

“Most athletes don’t have an opportunity to say that they won a gold medal, better yet three gold medals,” Anthony said. “I would be very happy walking away from the game knowing that I’ve given the game everything I have, knowing I played on a high level at every level: high school, college, won [a championship at Syracuse] in college and possibly three gold medals.

“I can look back on it when my career is over -- if I don’t have an NBA championship ring -- and say I had a great career.”

Anthony is deflecting to a certain degree. If his Knicks were legitimate championship contenders, he might view an NBA title as more important. But with that goal so far removed, he’s trying to manage expectations – both internal and external.

Of course, Anthony also contributes to New York being so far from a championship. He’s an excellent scorer, but his limitations make it difficult to build a team around him – especially because his scoring prowess commands such a high portion of the salary cap. The Nuggets assembled an effective supporting cast for him, but it sure wasn’t easy.

It also doesn’t help that Anthony isn’t totally consumed by winning a title. He cares about more than just basketball, which makes him like many of us who have broad interests outside our jobs. It also separates him from many of his peers who, following Michael Jordan’s lead, are manically devoted to winning.

And that’s OK.

Anthony’s values don’t have to be your values or Jordan’s values or anyone else’s values.

When Anthony retires, he’ll have had a great career. A championship might be the missing piece, and when comparing him to other all-time greats it’d be fair to hold that against him. But how we rank players isn’t everything, and Anthony seems content with his accomplishments. That matters, too.