USA Basketball: No Growing Pains

LAS VEGAS – Anyone wondering where the players and coaches involved in the USA Basketball program get their confidence from need look no further than to Jerry Colangelo.

The longtime NBA executive and USA Basketball’s chairman and managing director exudes the utmost confidence in the players that have helped build the national program, from the high schoolers to the global superstars on display here at training camp this week, back into the world’s best.

When Colangelo took over in 2005 there was major work to be done. Eight years later there are gold medal teams at every level and Colangelo’s grand plan is in full swing, with no significant growing pains in sight.

Members of the Olympic team worked out Tuesday morning at UNLV while members of the gold medal winning Under-17 Team, which includes the nation’s top rising senior Jabari Parker, watching from the other side of the court. Colangelo made it clear that the players that comprise both teams represent the recent past, present and future of USA Basketball, which is exactly the way it was planned.

And with the 20-year anniversary of the original Dream Team as a backdrop, Colangelo couldn’t ask for a better platform than the competition in London to showcase the best of the very best in what is a much different global basketball climate than the U.S. was dealing with in the aftermath of the Dream Team’s gold medal run.

“When I came along, I wasn’t happy about how people looked at us as Americans, as athletes and basketball people,” Colangelo said. “And I was determined that we were going to change that. How do you fix it? You show respect to the rest of the world’s basketball community and then you go about working to get your respect back. I knew if we do it together, it would be a fantastic experience. Well, [the players] bought in. And now if you look at our programs, the junior teams … 16, 17, 18 and 19 … they are all full, they are all loaded, they are all gold medalists. They want to play, they want to represent their country. That’s what we set out to do. And in eight years, our program is as strong as it could be right now. And I’m pleased with that.”

That’s also why Colangelo has no problem with the team heading to London playing with gold-medal-or-bust expectations hanging over them. After the bronze medal finish in 2004 and the gold medal work of the “Redeem Team” in Beijing in 2008, he demands this current embrace being the best.

“In 2008 we were climbing the hill,” he said. “Now we’re on top of the hill. We have to defend the hill. I’d rather be on top of the hill defending it rather than climbing it every time.”

3 Comments

  1. Ivan Ivanov says:

    Please give Mr. Jerry Colangelo all the credit of the world for finally organized the right usage of the vast talent pool
    this country has always had. Cohgratulations !!!

  2. Yago says:

    Cierto que los americanos han recuperado el prestigio perdido. Han perdido en el pasado y gracias a ello han aprendido. Ahora juegan como equipo y se saben batibles. Salen al campo sabiendo que pueden perder.Desde 1992 y hasta 2004, ellos jugaban como si no hubiera rivales dignos enfrente. Los FIBA aprendimos de ellos. Aprendimos que hay que jugar más rápido y que hay que tener físicos potentes. Ahora, son ellos los que aprenden del baloncesto fiba, del juego en equipo, de la humildad.
    Hace 4 años USA ganó el oro, como ha dicho Barkley, debieron haber perdido. España mereció llevarse el oro. Un arbitraje más que dudoso inclinó la balanza hacia el lado americano. Ahora, un nuevo reto para todos: para los americanos, los españoles, los argentinos, los rusos, los franceses…

  3. @NBAEire says:

    I’m just glad that the USA team realised there were other teams in the world capable of playing the game of basketball. Now because they have taken the competition seriously once more, as they did in 2008, they are as good as they have ever been. I like Conlangelo’s talk here, reminding the people how far Team USA has come from being the best in 92, to losing that mantle and regaining it in 08, while also hinting at remaining humble and focused on the task ahead, People like himself are the reason this team can expect to do well in London, the talent is already there in this team of course, but now the mentality is there too, the rest of the world needs to watch out!

    Also, for an injury hit squad like this one, how deep is the talent pool? I mean seriously! No DRose, Wade, Bosh, Howard, and yet these 12 still look like they could have ben chosen originally, no real weak links that I can see.