Carmelo Anthony wants more than Olympic gold as he heads into the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro – he wants a better nation.
The New York Knicks forward is calling for his fellow athletes to speak out about injustice in the wake of several police-involved shootings that have gripped the nation.
“It’s unfortunate, it’s sad,” Anthony, 32, said on Monday, ESPN reports. “You can’t really put into words what’s going on throughout the whole country, throughout the whole world. For us as a country, we have to stand united. We have to come together.”
Anthony’s comments come after the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police officers, the death of five officersin Dallas, Texas, and the murder of three policemen in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
He appeared to be alluding to the shootings of Sterling and Castile in a lengthy Instagram post last week, writing, “We have to put the pressure on the people in charge in order to get this thing we call JUSTICE right.”
“I’m calling for all my fellow ATHLETES to step up and take charge. Go to your local officials, leaders, congressman, assemblymen/assemblywoman and demand change,” the NBA star wrote in the post.
“There’s NO more sitting back and being afraid of tackling and addressing political issues anymore. Those days are long gone. We have to step up and take charge.”
Anthony told ESPN that he and the rest of the USA men’s basketball team are eager to stand united at the Olympics as the country faces turmoil.
“We always say that the timing could not have been any better for us as a country, having a chance to come together and being united,” he said.
“Then go over there on the biggest stage you can possibly play on and have that voice and represent something that is bigger than us as players.”
The comments come just days after Anthony stood alongside fellow basketball stars Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James on stage at the 2016 Espy Awards to deliver a powerful Black Lives Matter message.
“The events of the past week have put a spotlight on the injustice, distrust and anger that plague so many of us,” Anthony opened the message. “The system is broken. But the problems are not new, the violence is not new and the racial divide definitely is not new.”
He added: “But the urgency for change is at an all time high.”