As the USA Men’s Basketball Team heads to London as the favorite to win gold, it’s hard to believe that just a few years ago, even medaling at the Olympics seemed an uncertain prospect. A series of embarrassing setbacks, including a horrific showing in the 2004 Games, left many wondering whether the rest of the world had caught—and passed—the United States in a game created in America.
That’s when longtime National Basketball Association executive Jerry Colangelo stepped up to accept the challenge. As director of USA Basketball, Colangelo’s task was to rebuild the franchise that once so dominated its competition (think back to the 1992 Dream Team) that opponents lined up after games for the “honor” of photos with the superstars who had just trounced them by 50 points.
Colangelo’s job was an ugly one. In the 2004 games, USA had finished a disappointing third. Worse, several players and coaches had run-ins with fans and the international media. The experience was so bad that many of the best U.S. players said they had no interest in playing in future Olympic Games.
Success Magazine: Recapturing Gold, Restoring Pride