With Boeheim as his assistant coach, Carmelo Anthony makes Team USA history

Syracuse basketball coach discusses former SU star's third gold medal and life at 2016 Olympics.

Former Syracuse star Carmelo Anthony is 32 years old and a 13-year NBA veteran. To his college coach, he’s still just a kid.

Two days after Anthony became the first player in USA history to collect three gold medals in men’s basketball, SU coach Jim Boeheim held a press conference on campus in the Carmelo K. Anthony Center. Boeheim served as an assistant coach to Mike Krzyzewski in all three of Anthony’s Olympic triumphs.

Photo: Bryan Cereijo

“He’s just such a great kid, he really is,” Boeheim said at the press conference on Tuesday. “He's not a kid anymore, but to me he is. He just gets along with everybody, he always has. He's always given back.

With many NBA veterans such as LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook not participating in this year’s Olympics, Anthony became the most experienced international player on Team USA’s roster. Boeheim said he flourished in the leadership role.

“The reason I wanted him to go was to have a good basketball experience for himself and to be the leader of this team,” Boeheim said. “I think it was important for him to go and he did a great job. He really did a great job throughout the tournament.”

As an assistant coach, Boeheim helped to lead Team USA to the gold medal in 2008, 2012 and this year in Rio de Janeiro. He said that each trip has helped him continue developing as a coach.

“I think I’ve learned something every year I’ve been in the Olympics,” Boeheim said. “The more you think [about basketball], the more you’re involved in it, I think it does help you going forward. I think I’m probably more ready to go [into the next season] when I get done with that coaching experience.”

Boeheim has worked on the sidelines with Krzyzewski over the last three Olympics, which he said was a great experience.

“We get along well and we fit together well,” Boeheim said. “We just have a good relationship. It couldn’t have been a better experience. We never envisioned it would go this long but everything worked. It was smooth”

Following Team USA’s 96-66 blowout victory of Serbia on Sunday to clinch the gold medal, Anthony announced his retirement from international basketball. As previously announced, Krzyzewski also stepped down as the head man on the sidelines for Team USA following the game.

Boeheim praised Krzyzewski’s replacement, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich — a five-time NBA champion — on Tuesday.

“[Popovich is] an unbelievable guy,” Boeheim said. “Really the best pro coach probably, if not ever, he’s in the conversation. ... He’s a perfect guy to take over. He’s universally respected.”

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