Jerry Colangelo Discusses USA Basketball (Part 4)
December 5, 2012
USABasketball.com sat down with recently re-elected USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo for a five-part interview covering a wide variety of topics.
In Part 4 he discusses the USA men losing in the semifinals of the 2006 FIBA World Championship and what was learned, and his decision to select Duke University's Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski the head coach of the USA Basketball Men's National Team.
Colangelo, 2009-12 USA Basketball chairman and managing director of USA Basketball’s 2006-08 and 2009-12 men’s national teams, was re-elected on Nov. 13 as chairman of USA Basketball’s Board of Directors for the 2013-16 term.
Named in 2005 managing director of the USA Basketball Men's National Team program that had not won a major international competition since 2000, Colangelo confidently rebuilt the program from the bottom up. Obtaining the involvement of the NBA’s top players, and securing the involvement of some of basketball’s most respected coaches, Colangelo’s first step in his rebuilding process was selecting Duke University’s Hall of Fame mentor Mike Krzyzewski as the USA National Team head coach.
Since he took charge of the national team, the USA men have compiled a remarkable 62-1 win-loss record and have claimed gold medal finishes at the 2012 London Olympics, 2010 FIBA World Championship, 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2007 FIBA Americas Championship.
During Colangelo's first term (2009-12) as USA Basketball chairman, USA Basketball men's and women's teams compiled an impressive 166-8 win-loss record in FIBA and FIBA Americas competitions, the World University Games and the Nike Hoop Summit. USA teams are the current men's and women's champions in the Olympics, men's and women's FIBA World Championships; women’s FIBA U19 World Championship; men's and women's FIBA U17 World Championships; and the men's and women's U18 and U16 FIBA Americas Championships.
Additionally, USA Basketball currently ranks No. 1 in all five of FIBA's world ranking categories, including combined, men's, women's, boys and girls.
At the 2006 FIBA World Championship, the U.S. men lost to Greece in the semifinals. That's been the only loss the USA national team has suffered with you overseeing the program. Was there anything learned from that loss?
You know, I still can't get the loss out of my thinking process. I would have to say that I think the loss, in retrospect, probably served us a good purpose.
We had a young group of players at the time, and I'm now talking about the Chris Pauls and the LeBrons and the Dwyane Wades and the Dwight Howards and Chris Bosh, et cetera, Carmelo Anthony.
We got upset. There is no doubt about it. We had one of those games. Any given night you can lose a game, and it happened. It stunned us; it shocked us.
But I think what took place is we ended up with more resolve as we went forward as we were looking to the (2008) Olympics to make a lot of amends.
I think we took it out on Greece when we played them in the Olympics in Beijing. Fortunately, we were able to win the gold.
And I've told this story, and I'm going to say it one more time: Few people that I have ever met in my life have had the opportunity to have a dream, and that dream involved a lot of passion.
And so to have a game plan and see it executed and get the desired result is unbelievable. So at the moment when the Star Spangled Banner was being played and the gold medals were being awarded, it was a moment of total fulfillment. That's how I felt in Beijing in '08.
'12 in London was a little bit different. I was relieved after we had won the gold medal. I had a different feeling. I guess no two things ever are alike; even winning two gold medals are not alike.
I'm sure as we march towards Rio in our quest to win a third gold medal in a row, that too would be different.
After receiving input from many Olympic coaches and legendary players that have been involved for the United States, you selected Duke University's Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski to be the head coach of the USA National Team for 2004 through 2008, and then you did it again for him to be coach from 2010 to '12. Talk about making that decision and then the relationship you two developed over those seven years.
One of the things that I noticed about the really, really good programs around the world is that they had continuity. It started with management. Started with coaching. Even the players, players who had played together for 10, 12, 14 years were representing their national team.
So what I had hoped to do when I came on was to put in an infrastructure which would have really accomplish that had same goal and objective.
In selecting Coach K, who had all the attributes I was looking for in a coach to help build a program: He bled red, white, and blue; he was a great leader; Hall of Fame coach; he had great respect from players in the NBA; he was the perfect guy at the perfect time.
He's done a terrific job for USA Basketball. That's why he was asked to continue in that role, because the continuity is what sets us apart from how USA Basketball used to be run in prior generations, if you will.