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Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Updated: July 24, 11:25 AM ET
Anthony accepts Olympics invitation

By Marc Stein
ESPN.com

Carmelo Anthony will be going to Athens. Ben Wallace and Rip Hamilton will not.

Anthony, the Denver Nuggets' rookie forward, will accept an invitation to join the U.S. Olympic basketball team, he confirmed Wednesday night.

"I can't tell you how excited I am to play for Coach [Larry] Brown and with the great players" on the roster, Anthony said in a written statement issued by the Nuggets. "It has always been a dream of mine to play for my country in the Olympics and I plan on coming back with gold medal."

ESPN.com reported earlier Tuesday that Pistons teammates Wallace and Hamilton declined invitations, even though Pistons coach Larry Brown is also the Team USA coach. Those pullouts opened a spot for Anthony.

The decision to invite Anthony was a significant change for the selection committee, amid lobbying from fellow rookie LeBron James, among others. Some committee members had initially feared that there would be little playing time available for Anthony with James, Richard Jefferson and Shawn Marion essentially playing the same position. Miami's Lamar Odom and Dwyane Wade were apparently selected before Anthony because of their ballhandling abilities.

But sources close to Anthony said he was pleased to finally receive the call and accepted instantly. Earlier this month, he lashed out at the selection process, thinking the committee had bypassed him.

USA Basketball was hoping Wallace and Hamilton would fill the final two spots on its roster, but both players have expressed concerns about security in Greece.

Wallace and Hamilton were among five players USAB had targeted to complete its 12-man squad. Cleveland's Carlos Boozer and the Miami duo of Wade and Odom accepted their invitations.

New York's Stephon Marbury was the only recognized point guard in the first wave of replacements, but Wade and Odom join Cleveland's LeBron James and Philadelphia's Allen Iverson in a group of combo guards who can handle the ball.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.