Jerry Colangelo Honored as USA Basketball Steitz Award Recipient on the Heels of Fourth Straight Men’s Olympic Gold
With four Olympic gold medals and two FIBA World Cup gold medals among the many successes during his tenure, USA Basketball today announced Jerry Colangelo as the recipient of the 2021 USA Basketball Edward S. Steitz Award.
Compiling an incredible 104-7 record as the USA Basketball Men’s National Team managing director from 2005 through 2021, Colangelo, just as importantly also helped re-established the USA team as positive ambassadors for the United States and the sport. In addition to his men’s national team responsibilities, Colangelo was chairman of USA Basketball Board of Directors for the 2009-12 quadrennium, and he became the first person reelected for a second term, 2013-16.
Colangelo’s award was announced following the USA Basketball Board of Director’s annual meeting that was held on Oct. 25 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“We are happy to honor Jerry with the 2021 Edward S. Steitz Award, and no one is more deserving of the recognition for their service to international basketball,” said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball CEO. “Since 2005, Jerry has led USA Basketball with a commitment to gold standards and a tremendous respect for our opponents. He guided the organization from the top for eight very successful years, accomplishing great things for USA Basketball. And at the helm of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team, he compiled a tremendous legacy. USA Basketball and the game overall is in a better place because of all that Jerry has done, and we are grateful for his leadership.”
The USA Basketball Edward S. Steitz Award recognizes an individual for their valuable contributions to international basketball. The award is in honor of Edward S. Steitz, a longtime director of athletics at Springfield College who was internationally recognized as an authority on the rules of basketball. Steitz was an original architect and a past president (1969-74 and 1980-84) of USA Basketball’s predecessors, the Basketball Federation of the USA (BFUSA) and the Amateur Basketball Association of the United States of America (ABAUSA).
Named as the USA Basketball Men’s National Team managing director in 2005, Colangelo brought Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University) onboard as the U.S. men’s head coach, and the duo led the USA to a bronze medal in their first major test at the 2006 FIBA World Cup. That set back was only temporary, as it was followed by gold at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship, which qualified the USA for the 2008 Olympic Games.
Restoring the USA to the top of the podium with an 8-0 record at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the USA also reclaimed the FIBA World Cup title in 2010, and then went on to collected gold at the 2012 Olympics in London, gold at the 2014 FIBA World Cup and gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics. After selected San Antonio Spurs Hall of Fame head coach Gregg Popovich to lead the 2017-2021 USA Men’s National Teams, the USA again captured gold this past summer at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
While medals were the highlights, the USA Men’s National Team program also conducted national team minicamps and Red-White exhibition games and in Las Vegas, and under Colangelo, USA Basketball introduced USA Men’s Select Teams, which scrimmage against national teams in preparation for international competitions.
Before embarking on his success with USA Basketball, Colangelo already had cemented his legacy as a sports executive, and his impact on the game of basketball has been so significant that he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in April 2004.
Colangelo was the face of the NBA Phoenix Suns from its 1968 inaugural season through 2012. His 43-year tenure, which saw him serve as general manager, head coach, president, managing general partner, chief executive officer and chairman, came to an end in 2012 and at the time was the longest in the NBA.
He brought Major League Baseball to Phoenix in 1998 and served as Chairman and CEO of the 2001 World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks. Colangelo also was the key element in facilitating the move of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets to Arizona in 1996, where they became the Phoenix Coyotes.
Chairman of the NBA’s Board of Governors 2001 through 2005, Colangelo was a member of the league’s Finance Committee, Long Range Planning Committee, Expansion Committee and Competition and Rules Committee and chair of a special group in 2000-01 that made rules modifications.
Colangelo was on the founding committee for the WNBA, and the Phoenix Mercury were one of the WNBA's inaugural teams in 1997.
He currently is chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame; vice chairman of the National Italian American Foundation and Young Life International; past vice president of the Phoenix Downtown Partnership; past chairman and CEO of Phoenix Community Alliance; and he was a leader in the establishment of Employers Against Domestic Violence.
Colangelo as a college student enrolled at the University of Kansas but transferred after his prospective teammate Wilt Chamberlain left for a pro contract. Colangelo transferred to the University of Illinois, where he earned All-Big Ten Conference honors, captained the Illini as a senior and played two years of baseball. He was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame
He spent his prep years at Bloom Township High School in Chicago Heights, Illinois, where he was an all-state basketball honoree as a senior and a pitcher on the baseball team.
Past recipients of the USA Basketball Edward S. Steitz Award include: Val Ackerman (2005-08 USA Basketball president and 1996-2005 WNBA president); Clifford Fagan (1964-1969 BFUSA, 1973-1977 ABAUSA president and Basketball Hall of Fame president); Dave Gavitt (1980 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team head coach and 1989-1992 USA Basketball president); Russ Granik, (1996-2000 USA Basketball president and NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer); Tom Jernstedt (USA Basketball vice president for men, board member, vice president and president between 1976-2004, and NCAA executive vice president); George Killian (1976-80 ABAUSA president, 1990-98 president of FIBA and 1969-2004 NJCAA executive director); Jenaro “Tuto” Marchand (1993-2006 FIBA Americas secretary general and 1980-1985 FIBA vice president); C.M. Newton (FIBA Central Board member, 1984 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team assistant coach and 1993-1996 USA Basketball president); Lea Plarski (1980-84 ABAUSA vice president for women and 1990-96 NJCAA president); Borislav Stankovic (1976-2002 secretary general of FIBA); Rod Thorn (1992-2000 USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Team Selection Committee chair and a long-time NBA office and team executive); and William Wall (1974-1992 USA Basketball and ABAUSA executive director).