Today, we share highlights from the latest episode of “The Dream Team Tapes: Kobe, LeBron & The Redeem Team” from Diversion Podcasts. This week’s episode takes an in-depth look at the introduction of Jerry Colangelo to USA Basketball, and the approach he took to reshaping and revitalizing the entire USA Basketball program.
In the episode, Jerry describes what drew him to the position, and the two main contract demands he had for David Stern before accepting the role. Jerry also goes on to share inside details behind legendary brainstorm session in Chicago where he summoned the game’s biggest icons including Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, Jerry West, Dean Smith, John Thompson and others to discuss the direction of the team, culture changes that were needed and ultimately who the coach would be for the 2008 Redeem Team.
Highlight and timestamps include:
- Jerry Colangelo reflecting on his conversation with David Stern and the two main demands he had for him before accepting the role (10:29-12:13): “I basically said, yea I’ll do it but I have a couple conditions...One, full autonomy in terms of the selection process...and two, I don’t want to hear about a budget.”
- Jerry on why it was important to him to answer the call from USA Basketball (13:47-15:00): “I was unhappy with the way people were looking at us as Americans, as athletes and in particular our basketball players in Greece. It was a little shameful in my opinion.”
- Jerry called a secret meeting with Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Jerry West, and others to collaborate on the future direction of USA Basketball, the cultural shifts that needed to happen and who should ultimately coach the team (18:45-20:58): “I had each of them speak and wanted to know their experience as an Olympian, what’s your read on how things are, and number three what needs to happen….And then, I said I’m gonna put some names on the board and let’s talk about coaches and the college coach that turned out to be number 1 by a landslide at the time was Coach K.”
- Jerry reveals how during the brainstorm session, it was Dean Smith who made the biggest push for Coach K (20:22-21:00): “Dean Smith who was an Olympic coach, was there and he said ‘There’s only one college guy up there who can get the job done and that's because he [Krzyzewski] has the respect of all the players and he’s current. He’s the one!’”
- Jason Kidd on having to overcome his rocky relationship with Jerry Colangelo to come play for him, despite being traded by Colangelo during their time together in Phoenix (31:50-34:00): “When Jerry gave me a call and asked if I would participate, at first I thought he was joking. But he was serious and anytime Jerry calls to ask you to do something there is no ‘no’...He did trade me and I was bitter about the trade because I loved Phoenix but I knew Jerry and Coach K were trying to fix team USA and put the best team together, maybe not top 12 or 13 players but the best team and I was honored to be asked.”