Syracuse to retire Carmelo Anthony’s jersey

Updated: January 17, 2013

If you have ever gone to a game at the legendary Carrier Dome, at one time or another you might have found yourself looking up to the rafters and noticing the celebrated roll call of players who have had their jersey numbers retired.  A good portion of the players who have been immortalized by the program made their bones with the Orange during the 1980’s at a time where the popularity of Syracuse basketball exploded in tune with the glory years of the Big East Conference.  Coached by Jim Boeheim, players such as “Pearl” Washington, Rony Seikaly, Sherman Douglas, and Derrick Coleman helped usher in a new era of basketball in upstate New York, making nationally televised games in the Dome structure must-see events. 

I grew up watching these players and those that followed them take the SU basketball program to the brink winning a national championship, most notably in 1987 and 1996.  However, it wasn’t until Carmelo Anthony arrived on campus for the 2002-2003 season that the dream finally became a reality. 

It was announced yesterday that Anthony will be the 10th Syracuse player to have his jersey retired.  I was a little surprised that it took so long for the University to bestow this honor upon him, but after taking to a few alums I can certainly see both sides of the reasoning.    

The biggest point of contention is that he only played on the team for one year, never returning to finish up his degree and graduate from the school.  While valid points, it’s probably safe to say that Carmelo is the school’s most recognizable basketball “alum” and that his charitable works and donations have endeared himself to the community in a positive way. 

Aside from the title run, his calling card at the University is the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center, a basketball facility that houses practice courts, locker rooms, and office facilities for the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Syracuse.  ‘Melo contributed $3 million towards the construction of the facility, signifying one of the large individual donations ever presented to Syracuse University Athletics.  These upgraded facilities and their link to Anthony have likely played a small role in the recruiting success that the team has enjoyed in the last few years of the rejuvenated Jimmy B era.     

Forgetting donations, Anthony’s accomplishments during his freshman season alone are significant enough for his No. 15 jersey to be hanging from the rafters at the Carrier Dome.  That team had it all, and led by Anthony and Gmac they finished with a 30-5 record in route to capturing the school’s first ever NCCA title.  ‘Melo did a little bit of everything that season, averaging 22 points, 10 rebounds and eventually being named the NCAA Freshman of the Year.  He was also the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four, saving perhaps two of his best games of the year for victories in the Final Four against Texas and Kansas.    

That title win was the missing piece in the illustrious career of Jim Boeheim, who wasn’t naïve to the fact that he had the best player in college basketball that season at his disposal.  It wasn’t surprising that ‘Melo left for the NBA after his team won the championship, as he had accomplished his goal and moved on with Boeheim’s approval.   

The jersey ceremony is slated to occur during Syracuse’s game against Georgetown at the Carrier Dome on February 23rd, somewhat fitting that one of the school’s greatest players will be honored at the same time they are facing one of their greatest rivals.  It is a well-deserved honor for a player who took a school previously famous for coming up just short in big games and helping them finally close the deal and win it all.  

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