The three-time Olympic gold medalist and 10-time NBA All-Star kicks off his FIBA Basketball World Cup global ambassador duties by appearing at the Philippines-Lebanon qualifier game.
NBA basketball superstar Carmelo Anthony is many things: three-time Olympic gold medalist, 10-time NBA All-Star, Top 10 NBA All-Time Scorer, and former FIBA Basketball World Cup competitor. Now he adds another role to his roster, as FIBA Basketball World Cup’s latest global ambassador.
The announcement was made at a press conference at Araneta Coliseum in the Philippines on February 24. The superstar athlete is in the country for the World Cup qualifier game between the Philippines and Lebanon, kicking off his global ambassador duties.
“It’s an honor to be able to represent an incredible competition like the FIBA World Cup. I love the game of basketball and it’s a central part of who I am, so it was important to me to help play a role in continuing the growth of the game”, he says in our exclusive interview. “It truly has become such a global sport, so I’m proud to come back to this stage and help expand the game even further and usher in this next generation of players.”
As FIBA’s global ambassador, Anthony will help promote the World Cup and take part in activities leading up to the FIBA’s flagship men’s competition. “I’m here to support the best athletes in the world and help ignite the incredible passion for basketball across the host countries,” he reveals.
Anthony has had quite a career in basketball. Playing professionally since 2003, his first real breakthrough was in 2004, when he played at the Athens Olympic Games when he was just 20 years old. He quickly made his mark in the sport afterward, playing in the 2006 World Cup and then winning the FIBA AmeriCup the year after. He helped the US national team achieve a bronze medal win at the Olympics in 2004 and three undefeated gold medal runs in 2008, 2012, and 2016. He was also selected to be part of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team, and is currently ranked top 10 on the NBA All-Time Scoring List.
His history with the FIBA Basketball World Cup is worth noting. At the 2006 World Cup in Japan, Carmelo led the US team to the podium with a third-place finish, claiming his spot in the All-Star Five for that year.
“The World Cup is one of the toughest competitions in international basketball. I remember working extremely hard to prepare for it because I took great pride playing for my country, he shares of the experience.
The basketball legend also expressed his excitement over being in the Philippines and experiencing the Filipinos’ love of basketball. “As soon as we landed in the Philippines, our trip has exceeded all expectations – it’s a beautiful country and you can feel their energy and excitement for world-class basketball just walking through the streets,” he says.
At the press conference, he talked about his love for the Filipino basketball fans that shared his love for the sport, recognizing how the sport is ingrained deeply into Filipino culture.
“For me, I’m all about giving back to the new generation, to the younger generation. I think what you’ve developed here in the Philippines as far as [program] development goes is fascinating to me,” he said when asked what his plan was during his stay. “I think basketball here in the Philippines will only continue to grow.”
As a gesture welcoming him to the country, Anthony was given his own honorary Gilas Pilipinas jersey at the end of the press conference.
The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 will be tipping off on August 25 in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia.