Could we have an epic return to the summer of 1968 all over again?
Almost 48 years ago, USA Olympic sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised black-gloved fists on the medal stands at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics as The Star-Spangled Banner played, almost six months after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.
Calling the then “Black Power salute," a human rights salute, Carlos and Smith believe this summer’s Olympics in Rio are a prime opportunity to someone else to make a statement.
“One of the best basketball teams have been put together,” Carlos said. “You not only have one star, but you have a plethora of stars on that team. And each star has its own light to shine. And hopefully that light that they will shine will make a better picture of things that are extending out there in the world that needs light to be shone on.
“The visibility of greatness will always have some type of picture painted. It’s up to the individuals to decide what they see in the picture. I think the basketball team will do that. It’s very, very visible. This is the Olympic Games.”
And that is where Carmelo Anthony comes in, who has been the largest voice to speak out on the violence between African-Americans and police officers. The question has to be asked: is Melo prepared to make a statement?
Anthony sat down with The Undefeated, where he made it clear that he’s aware of the political climate and his platform to make a statement. He just probably won’t.
One provision of Olympic Charter Rule 50 states that no type of demonstration, political or religious, is allowed during the Olympics. Any violation of the clause may result in disqualification or withdrawal of accreditation of the person concerned after review by the IOC executive board. The U.S. men’s basketball team is projected to play in the gold-medal game on the last day of the Olympics, which would make expulsion for any political demonstration by Anthony or one of his teammates on the medal stand too late for impact. USA Basketball executive director Jerry Colangelo recently told The Undefeated he wouldn’t silence his team or tell them what to say.
Anthony spoke to The Undefeated after USA Basketball’s final pre-Olympics exhibition contest, a 110-66 win over Nigeria on Monday in Houston. He said that he is very well aware of Olympic Charter Rule 50 and that he is not scared to make a political statement either. But the three-time Olympian believes a gold medal will make the strongest statement and he plans to adhere to Rule 50.
“I know about that rule,” Anthony told The Undefeated. “We had a rule talk about the do’s and the don’ts. What you can do and what you can’t do. I know the basics of what I want to do and what I don’t want to do. But for me, I think I’ve laid the foundation down and laid the platform down where the best thing for me at this point is to win a gold medal and show our country that we are united through all these times. I think that’s the image I want to send out.
“If I wanted to do something, I’d do it. I wouldn’t let nothing hold me back. But I know I got a group of guys that got my back and need me there for them. The message I want to send is us standing on that medal stand united with them putting that gold medal around our neck despite everything that is going on in our country. I haven’t thought about putting the black glove on. I want to stay away from that, especially right now. I think the message we have an opportunity to send is big enough.”
Both men praised Carmelo, saying that they were impressed by the socially conscious Anthony’s “attitude of truth.”