Remembering Carmelo Anthony's 2003 National Championship Run
On Monday, Carmelo Anthony announced his retirement from the NBA after 19 seasons. Anthony had a stellar career, not only in the NBA but also in college, where he would lead the Syracuse Orange Men's Basketball team to its first and only national title in program history. Let's take a look back at the historic championship run that would put Carmelo Anthony's name as one of the greatest college basketball players of all time.
Carmelo and the Orange came into the tournament as the number three seed with a 24-5 record overall, as they would go into the tournament in the East Regional, which was headlined by other teams such as Louisville Cardinals, Butler Bulldogs, and the Oklahoma Sooners. Syracuse would win the first games of the tournament with ease, as they defeated Manhattan (76-65) and Oklahoma State (68-56), before coming out of a close victory in the Sweet 16 matchup with the Auburn Tigers (79-78). After that close victory, it would provide a spark as Jim Boeheim's Orange would advance to the Final Four after defeating the heavily favorited Oklahoma Sooners (63-47).
This Syracuse team led by Carmelo Anthony (Freshman), Gary McNamara (Freshman), and Hakim Warrick (Sophomore) would continue to shock college basketball fans everywhere as they would stun number one seed Texas Longhorns (95-84) to advance to the national title game, where one of college basketball blue blood teams and a legendary head coach would stand between Anthony's Orange and destiny, Roy Williams and the Kansas Jayhawks.
It was Kirk Hinrich of the Jayhawks taking on Carmelo Anthony of the Orange in a title game that would come down to one big moment to define it all. Syracuse was leading by 11 points at the half before Kansas would claw its way back and make it come down to a three-point Orange lead, as Michael Lee of Kansas would attempt a three from the corner until Warrick would come in with a block with 0.7 seconds left on the clock. Syracuse would win 81-78 and bring home its first national title.
Carmelo was named tournament MVP, finished the tournament with 121 points overall, and would announce his entry into the 2003 NBA Draft, where he was drafted by the Denver Nuggets at number three. Carmelo's career would take him to the Knicks, Thunder, Rockets, Blazers, and Lakers, as well as making an appearance to Team USA Basketball, where he would go on to win four medals with. Anthony would also be selected to the NBA 75th Anniversary team and would finish as the league's 9th-highest scorer with 28,289 points.