Sept. 20, 2004
I have a lot of respect for Tom Jernstedt of the NCAA. You may not have heard much about him, but people on the inside in college sports and the NCAA know how valuable he is to the operation. He has also had major involvement in national hoops as president of USA Basketball.
I couldn't agree more with his recent statement that something must be done to refine the selection process for the next U.S. men's Olympic basketball team. He said we should consider going back to using tryouts in the selection process instead of choosing a team merely on players' NBA resumés.
A 40-man tryout would make players bust their guts and really show they want to wear the red, white and blue uniform. It would cut back on the NBA stars who don't want to be part of the Olympics. It would take players who want to be part of a TEAM -- that's T for Togetherness, E for Effort, A for Attitude and M for Mental Toughness.
We should consider going back to using tryouts in the Olympic selection process.
Then the United States would have a group who played with a sense of pride and passion. We would have players who want to wear the Team USA uniform, and guys with different skill sets coming together so that there won't be a repeat of the 2004 Olympic disappointment. There would be 3-point shooters, point guards, screeners, passers ... plenty of role players. They would be honored to be invited.
The disappointing performance in the 2002 World Championship and the recent Olympics sends a message loud and clear that there's a dire need for change. We need a sense of pride among those who wear that Team USA uniform.
My personal opinion is that we should send the NBA champion to represent the United States at the Olympics. The few foreign players from the champ would be replaced by a few stars or role players as determined by the coach and USA Basketball. If San Antonio won, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker would be replaced be a couple of capable stars.
That group would clearly be a team, prepared to face the best of the best from all over the world.
If the NBA champion wouldn't work, then a 40-man tryout would work for me. See how many NBA players would want to attend and then get it done!
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.