USA Hoops' Colangelo Turns To Olympics After World Cup Setback
USA Basketball Managing Dir Jerry Colangelo said that he "won't forget those who backed out of commitments" to play in the FIBA World Cup this summer when it comes to assemble the roster for the men's team at '20 Tokyo Games, according to Tim Reynolds of the AP. Team USA's loss to Serbia today means that the team cannot finish better than seventh place, which will mark the worst finish ever in a major international tournament. Colangelo said, "You can't help but notice and remember who you thought you were going to war with and who didn't show up. ... No one would have anticipated the pull-outs that we had." Reynolds notes of the 35 players "originally selected for the U.S. player pool, only four" ended up playing in China during the World Cup. Many players "cited schedule concerns as a reason to not play this summer, while others are dealing with injuries and some are acclimating in advance of joining new teams." Colengelo: "Going forward for USA Basketball, we're going to need the cooperation of teams, agents and then there has to be communication with players 1-on-1 to solidify those commitments. I am going to be anxious to see how many players reach out early to indicate that they wish and want and desire to play. But I'll make this statement: It's as much about maybe who we don't want as much as who we want" (AP, 9/12).
OLYMPIC BOOST? ESPN.com's Brian Winderhorst notes it has been 13 years since Team USA "didn't win a gold medal" in a major international event, and the "importance and the honor has slipped." America's top players now "have to consider their plans for next summer" in Tokyo. To win at the Olympics, America "needs more of its best" (ESPN.com, 9/11). ESPN's Jalen Rose said NBA All-Stars will be "more enthusiastic" about playing on Team USA "when it's an Olympic year (and) the stage is a lot bigger" ("Jalen & Jacoby," ESPN2, 9/11). NBA TV's Dennis Scott said while not all of the top U.S. players will be in Tokyo, he predicts "most of them do play" ("NBA Gametime," NBA TV, 9/11). ESPN's Paul Pierce said top U.S. players know the magnitude of the Olympics "is much greater that the World Cup." Pierce: "You're going to have your superstars back on the stage where they can represent their brands, because there's no bigger stage than the Olympics." ("The Jump," ESPN, 9/11).
NOT OUR BEST: USA TODAY's Scott Gleeson writes to say the U.S. World Cup squad "was a B-list team would be an understatement." Star players' reasons for passing on Team USA endeavors are "plentiful, especially when it's not the Olympics." But the "overall mindset hinders the culture that was revamped" in '08 when Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski "spearheaded a team with the best NBA talent" (USA TODAY, 9/12). ESPN's Bomani Jones said if the U.S. tries to "slap together a team late and send it off to play in international competition against teams that have been playing together for a long time," then chances are they are "going to be at a bit of a disadvantage" ("High Noon," ESPN, 9/11). ESPN's Israel Gutierrez: "Our best can still comfortably beat their best. Our middle of the pack can no longer comfortably beat their best" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 9/11).
COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING: The AP's Reynolds wrote the World Cup result "was not exactly unexpected," as the "best team was at home." The group that ultimately got assembled "was a bunch of guys not even on the radar screens when this selection process began." However, there is "not much incentive for multimillionaires to give up their time off, travel thousands of miles to risk injury by playing in a tournament in which most of the games are not nationally televised." Additionally, many players who have "already won with USA Basketball often say they want to let someone else have a shot" (AP, 9/11). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said after Paul George suffered a broken leg while playing for Team USA in '14, the idea of having the top NBA players on Team USA "is done." There is not "going to be the kind of shame that ever makes our stars come back and participate in this because there have been enough losses for this not to feel like precedent anymore" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 9/11).