Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James weren't happy with their roles in the Team USA that represented the country in the 2004 Olympics. That team is well remembered, but not for the right reasons. They finished with the bronze during that edition, which was a crisis for USA Basketball and started the work for the 'Redemption Team' that won everything at an international level from 2008 onwards.
However, in 2004, young players like Carmelo and Bron didn't have much participation. Instead, Shawn Marion and Richard Jefferson were playing before them. That wasn't the best for the young players, and they made a pact during that summer.
“When we made that pact it was just like, ‘What? They’re playing in front of us? Really?’ That was me and Bron’s mentality,” Anthony said in an interview with UNINTERRUPTED. “But then, we used to go to practice, and in practice that was our games. We used to huddle up before practice and be like, ‘Yo listen. Let’s go to war. We want to smoke today. If they ain’t ready to play today, it’s on.’”
On Wednesday's edition of ESPN's 'The Jump', RJ reacted to those comments, stating he and Marion actually embraced going against Melo and Bron.
"One, we did want that smoke," Jefferson started. "Carmelo was not ready, he wasn't and truth to be told, neither was I. We had the youngest team of all team, of all the Dream Team, we have eight players under 25, that's not a recipe for success. Carmelo is the greatest USA Men's basketball player internationally that this country has ever seen. I'm not gonna look at him and disrespect him, I'm not gonna disrespect our careers, but if you go back and look at the very first game we played against each other, I had to go back and look at the stats because I had 26 and 11 and held Carmelo for 9 points. Carmelo was not ready at the time, he was in his first or second year and his career is far greater than mine, but at that time, Carmelo wasn't ready, I truly wasn't ready."
Jefferson recalled that Carmelo, LeBron or him weren't even part of the top 30 players that year. He named Ray Allen, Tracy McGrady, Mike Bibby, Jason Kidd and more players that opted not to participate in the Olympics, which made USA Basketball look for alternatives, picking Anthony, James and Jefferson.
That team was very young and no matter how great the future was for Bron and Melo, they weren't just ready to compete at that level yet.