U.S.A. Basketball made this move to put pros on the floor after our senior men’s team of Olympics past were college players who weren’t winning gold, while the teams from around the world, who all had professional players from their own countries playing in the Olympics. Charles Barkley made a statement after the 1996 Olympics which made many U.S.A. sports fans upset, he said (and I am paraphrasing here) “Sooner or later, the world is going to catch up with the United States in basketball and we are going to start losing games.” Barkley’s statement proved to be right starting at the 2000 Sydney Games when the U.S.A. didn’t actually lose a basketball game, but came close to losing in the Gold Medal Game.
Enter former Phoenix Sun’s owner Jerry Coangelo! Coangelo held a forum to discuss the woes of the program and in attendance were the likes of Michael Jordan, John Thompson and many other legends within the basketball community. They all agreed that the program had to change and Coangelo set about to do that. Without going into all the particulars as I understand them, the Team that was put together was different than ones past where U.S.A. Basketball just put the best players on the floor and expected results. The whole mindset of the program changed and a vision, in my opinion, was put into place that was lacking from all previous Olympics.
This coming from a man that up until recently was seen as selfish! When the team was on the medal stand, I would say there was a net worth of at least $300 million dollars on that medal podium in Beijing. Most of them have endorsement deals worth millions and surely they weren’t getting paid any large sum of $$$ to do this. They did this because ‘The vision was cast’, they bought in, and they believed. Going forward, Mr. Coangelo has to keep that vision fresh because the truth is, at their core, all of these guys main mission was to ‘Bring the Gold Medal back to the U.S.’ This cause was a worthy one, but now that the Gold Medal is back, how does Mr. Coangelo and U.S.A. Basketball keep the momentum? The answer is simple, ‘Keep casting the vision because sometimes, vision, like a bucket with holes in it, leaks!’ Remember the title of this post, ‘Without a vision, the people perish.’