Additional Quotes >> Day Two At USA Men's National Team Minicamp
Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball Men’s National Team managing director
Can you recap briefly how USA Basketball has grown in the past 10 years?
Well, I think the last 10 years are something that we can celebrate, but we can’t just rest on laurels. We’ve accomplished a lot in the last decade with the gold medals, etc., in international competition. But to me, the most important thing is we have created a culture. We have created a family and it is so indicative when you see the guys who are here who are committed. And as we go forward, we want to continue building the legacy of USA Basketball and the relationship that we have with all the players. So, it’s a wonderful time to celebrate.
On continuing forward with Mike Krzyzewski:
When you pick someone to be a leader alongside you, Coach K was right there at the top, and he has done an incredible job. He’s forged relationships with everyone in the world of basketball, and in particular with the players, and so there is respect. We can talk about loyalty, we can talk about commitment, but when you add respect to that equation, it means a great deal.
On the growth of USA Basketball, including youth development and 3x3 basketball:
We are all about growth. We are about the growth of the game, and where we need to put our resources is into the youth. So, our youth development at USA Basketball is the future of the game, and so that is a very exciting part of what lies ahead.
USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)
We have a great culture. While we’ve limited everything, they want to be here. They love one another. They trust. It’s an amazing culture that we have right now, so (we need to) keep it going. Whatever it needs to be, because they’re going to be the difference in ’16, to go to ’19, ’20. What we do during that period will be key to keeping that going.
Are you going to stay involved in any way at all?
I’ll get involved in some way. I don’t what the structure will be. The key thing will be to have Jerry (Colangelo) continue to do it, because he’s been like a one-man owner and decision-maker. That’s so critical for this.
How important is it to have LeBron James here participating?
It’s huge having LeBron here. When we talk about LeBron, we don’t talk about a guy who’s playing for USA Basketball. We’re talking about, he is, (along with) Carmelo and Chris and Durant and Curry, they are USA Basketball. In other words, they have ownership. They’re not playing for (USA Basketball); they have ownership. That comes with an amazing commitment. LeBron’s made an amazing commitment to our country’s basketball program, and has had a huge, positive impact, besides just winning.
Assuming he’s healthy, will he be on the team?
Yeah, yeah. And one of the leaders. He’s been a leader. He was a leader in London, obviously a key guy and a young leader in Beijing. LeBron’s so darn smart and such a good guy. These guys, it’s like a renewal of friendships. That’s why we’re going to have to kick them out of the gym here today.
When guys dropped out last year, especially Kevin Durant, did you worry at all that maybe this didn’t mean as much as it once did?
No. You’re always cognizant of health problems, contractual problems and personal problems. In Kevin’s case during that time, a huge contractual situation occurred that really shapes the rest of his life and how he handles that. So, we have no problem that he had to step away and make sure that that was handled properly. But, his commitment, he loves it. His comments yesterday were so telling about how much he loves being here.
All these guys, not only have been here for a week, but we’ve won two World Championships, when a lot of people didn’t … our country doesn’t look at it like a huge thing like we do. So, if Curry’s not there, he’s been on two World Championship teams, not an Olympic team. Has he built up equity? You’re darn right he has, besides being a great player. Obviously, Anthony Davis being on two teams, an Olympic team and a World Championship team. Right now we have 34 guys in the NBA who have one or two gold medals. That’s an amazing thing, and it’s great for the league, too.
How good is it to see a healthy Blake Griffin out here?
It will be nicer when we see him out there next summer, too. Blake has improved so much as a player, especially in his scoring ability. We’ve missed not having him, especially last summer. But he’s here, and, really, a number of the guys who are hurt are still here, which shows a tremendous commitment.
Could you envision him at the four and the five?
No. I don’t envision right now. In order to have vision, you have to know who you have, instead of one guy. So, I envision him playing hopefully for USA Basketball.
How do you balance the veterans with giving other guys the opportunity to play?
Well, if you look at the four teams, there’s always been somebody new. Even in ’12 in London, you had a number of Beijing guys, but then you had World (Championship) Istanbul guys. And then you added two guys called Harden and Anthony Davis. So, this past summer, all of a sudden it’s the first time Irving is playing, Curry for the second time, Klay Thomson is valuable. DeMarcus made a huge impact on the team. So, the thing is now, we normally have a pool of players, we now have a pool of gold medal winners. But, you still have to bring new guys in, because it’s going to keep going. Even if a guy would not make the team next year, he potentially could be a star in the next one. That’s how you have to keep the culture going. Thank goodness that these guys have recommitted each time. It’s great for the culture. I know I’ve said culture a lot, but culture doesn’t come easy. It comes with time and commitment and hopefully success. We’ve had those three, and it’s produced a good thing.
What’s the significance of Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James being on a fourth Olympic team?
The significance of Carmelo and LeBron being on four of these (teams) is what kind of guys they are. There are a lot of people who are one way, ‘What’s in it for me?’ Not two way, ‘What’s in it for (us)?’ They’re two-way guys. They want something good, but they want to give something, too. They’re terrific. They’re not good. They’re terrific, and they’re great, great guys.
How much have you weighed having the best collective talent available to you, versus players who have been together?
It’s a combination. We’ve never picked the team by the 12 most talented. They’re all talented. Not knocking these guys, but (Carlos) Boozer, (Michael) Redd, (Andre) Igoudala and Tayshaun Prince were really valuable in Beijing. Igoudala, a young Anthony Davis in London. Harden didn’t play as much there … so it’s a balance of those things.
Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls/Marquette)
What has this experience been like for you?
It’s been fun. Seeing all of these guys, a lot of them with gold medals, and a lot of them, what they do in the NBA, it is cool to be out here with all of this amazing talent.
What does it mean to you to get to be a part of USA Basketball?
It means a lot. I’ve come a long way from Tomball, Texas. Never thought that I would be in the NBA. Never thought that I would have the chance to represent my country. So, it’s a pleasure. It’s fun, too. I just love playing basketball. You just look at the competition out here, and they all love playing basketball and having the chance to represent their country.
Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers/Oklahoma)
What would it mean to be one of the guys selected for the U.S. Olympic team?
It would be an honor. Like you said, I’ve missed out a couple times. Last year was more kind of precautionary, but 2012, the London Olympics, I definitely missed that.
On the difficulty of being named to a USA Basketball 12-member roster:
There are All-Stars, max players, franchise players that don’t make this team. It’s hard for anybody. It’s hard for everybody.
Tobias Harris (Orlando Magic/Tennessee)
How has your experience been so far?
It’s been great, just being around the top guys, being around Coach K and Mr. Colangelo. It’s been a true honor, and I’m just soaking everything in, continuing to grow, continuing to learn more and more things each and every day.
This has been a little different pace on the court, in terms of minimal contact. What kinds of things have you learned or picked up on?
Just the culture of USA Basketball and how serious their approach is to winning a gold medal for their country and representing the United States. So, that has been one of the biggest things that I’ve picked up on. I’ve been taking in the whole culture.
Has this experience been motivating?
It definitely helps keep me motivated. But, at the same time it also helps me reach for an even higher goal, and that’s to be on this team one day.
LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers/St. Vincent-St. Mary H.S., Ohio)
What would a fourth gold medal mean to you?
It would actually be my third, but I’m not penciled in as of right now for next summer. This is the start of the process for all of us. There are 34 guys here, trying to compete and trying to be a part of that team for next year.
How do you make that decision?
All of my decisions start with my family, seeing how my family feels about it. Then with my health. And then another NBA campaign and see what I can do as far as my team back home in Cleveland and go from there.
You’ve been to a lot of different cities all over the planet, what makes Rio different?
I don’t know. I mean, it’s a different venue. We know that they love soccer, football there, and for us as basketball players hopefully whatever the team that goes over to represent the USA to bring some excitement to that country.
Can you compare your USA Basketball experiences to your NBA experiences?
If I ended my career right now, I would say it has been a success, both in the NBA and international play with Team USA. I couldn’t ask for more. I’ve been very blessed to be a part of some great teams, both internationally and in the NBA. So, my ride has been a good ride for me so far.
What was it like to see Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony out on the floor – guys who missed a large chunk of the season last year?
Well, I really missed those guys last year. K.D. and Melo, to see them back on the court today just going through workouts, not only is it great for Team USA, for sure to have those guys out here, but it’s great for our league, and I know they are excited for the future and what it holds for them.
What are you doing to stay in shape?
Fitness is not an NBA-season process for me. It’s a year-round thing. I’ve always been very conscious about my body – keeping my body well-rounded all year. I’ll be on the court breaking my body down in the offseason, but I’m always doing something to keep my body in tune and ready for whatever.
With Paul George’s injury last summer, did you expect most of the guys to still want to be a part of the program?
It is an unbelievable turnout that we have. I mean, 34 guys. It’s an unbelievable turnout that we have. For a guy who has been part of it, like I said, for 12 years now, since I was 19, since I was 18, it’s great to see this type of turnout. Jerry and Coach K, they’ve done an unbelievable job of building something. Of building a brand with Team USA. This is a thing that people want to be around. You see how many NBA All-Stars, superstars, champions, the appearances that we have shows the type of program that we have.
Basketball is basketball. I’ve given everything to the NBA, and I give it all to USAB as well. If I’m fortunate enough, if I’m healthy enough and my family is willing to allow me to be a part of it, it would be great. We’ll see.
Was the bronze medal in 2004 a turning point in your career?
It was. I’ve had so many turning points in my career, and that was one of them. I came back a better player after that, a more in-tune player, but I still had a lot to learn because I was still only 19 years old, so I had a lot to learn. Everything that I have learned, losing, winning, has made me who I am today.
Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers/Wake Forest)
USA Basketball is 75-1 since Coach K and Jerry Colangelo took over. Does the possibility of taking an L still exist?
It always exists. You start every game 0-0. Fortunately, we usually have a team where we control our own destiny. I think for us guys who’ve been around for a while now, we were actually part of that one loss, so that game right there sort of motivates us and pushes us every day to prepare.
What does it mean to you to represent the USA?
It means a lot. You think about how many different guys are in the NBA year in and year out, who are All-Stars and everything like that, and this is even bigger than that. There are so many different guys that played in this league over the years that have never had this opportunity to ever put on one of these uniforms, let alone play for a gold medal.