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U.S. OLYMPIC TEAM MEDIA SUMMIT: Quotes from Men's Basketball Press Conference Tuesday, April 15

April 15, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
Press Conference Quotes Tuesday, April 15 9:40 - 10:20 am Men's Basketball Participants: Coach Mike Krzyzewski (MK) Managing Director Jerry Colangelo (JC) Quotes: Q: (Inaudible) JC: Back in '04 in watching its [the team's] performance in Athens left a great deal to be desired. I did have a prerequisite, full autonomy. I felt like we needed to change the culture. The autonomy I was referring to was that I would select the coaches and I would select the players and it wouldn't come from a committee. A very important element or component was looking at the world stage in basketball. The gap has been closed. I feel pride in the fact that we invented the game and we taught the world the game and introduced the world to the game and they took it very seriously. They became very adept at the game of basketball. The gap was changed and shortened. There are approximately 75 international players in the NBA that represent 30 countries and many of those countries have a national team and many of those players have been together since the time they were introduced to the game. So they grew up together. I have always been a firm believer that basketball is the ultimate team sport and that the more you play with one another, the better you can become and that a good team can be a group of all-stars. That was shown in the Olympics in '04 in representing the U.S. team. In starting off on our journey, if you will, certain things were said like we were going to put together a team. Yes, we would have some great individual talent. We needed role players, we needed shooters, we needed people who would accept roles. At this point, after two successful summers, we feel like we have come a long way. We are excited. We are excited about our future role in the Olympics. We have a job to do, we feel like we are on a mission and we hope we can be successful. MK: For me, it has been the ultimate honor to coach our country's team. Before you select a team and ask players to be committed to be a part of the team, we have asked them to play for their country, not just to play. Each of the guys have done that. We have seen our program develop to where LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and whoever our guys are on the team, they feel like they are part of a team. We feel like they are part of a movement. And they are very, very proud to represent the US. I think that we feel we have been a little arrogant about the game. It is not our game, it is the world game. We are playing a different game when we play internationally. The respect we have shown to international basketball over the last two years has paid dividends and it shows that we are trying to be the best we can be on that world stage. That to me is happening. I love our guys. They are committed. We are excited to represent the U.S. this summer in Beijing. Q: Given Dwyane Wade's injuries, what is your confidence in his health come August' JC: We are also curious to know exactly where he is physically. We know he is rehabbing and we plan to have some dialogue with him soon. We are planning on having a mini-camp in Las Vegas the last few days in June and we are expecting all of our players in really good shape. We need to get a good idea where our players are, so it might not be until then that we really truly know. We plan to visit with him and get as much info as we can. Q: (Inaudible_) equity with Chris Bosh' Bringing him in June' JC: The equity that we referred to was the time they put in. I think the first summer they put in 42 days straight, 42 days of being together and working together. And last summer was over 3 weeks, 24 days I believe. That is the equity that we referred to. Chris Bosh gave us that first summer, and he was injured last summer he was not able to participate. He was with us in Las Vegas for a short time. And so that all counts, there is no question about that. We added some players last summer and we played to the fact that we have some flexibility. We created our own rule which is we can add and delete players as needed to be successful. Chris Bosh is an outstanding young player and we were both very pleased when an article appeared a few days ago on the wire service that refers to his attitude that he needs to come in and earn it and we like that. So, again we may not know where Chris stands until we hit the gym. MK: We will bring anywhere from 15-18 depending on the injury status of players. We will meet as a staff in a couple weeks to get a better idea. Jerry and I have met a couple times already in the last week. After the playoffs start, we will be able to get our staff together in Phoenix and then plan that a little bit better. JC: Also, we plan to obviously have a 12 man roster and three alternates. And so, that pertains to the number of players we would have there. Q: Jerry, tell us about early interviews with players and the need to make a commitment' JC: That is a very good question. First of all, this is my hometown as it is for Mike. There is an affinity for this city; it is a great city. One of the things I did do, I had a meeting here in Chicago of former Olympic coaches and former Olympic players...other than Coach Newell and Bobby Knight, every coach through 1960 and three years ago showed up. We had great players, 30 some people. We talked about their experiences. They gave their opinion on USA Basketball and what needs to be done. They all had the chance to voice their opinions. I would be foolish to not use their opinions. I told them about the plan to make a national team and commitments. And that I planned to meet with each player, meet eyeball to eyeball, and I wanted to hear from them how important it was. To realize that it wasn't about them, it was about the country. In that kind of setting, you find out a lot about an individual. Some great stories came out of those meetings. Michael Red stands out, he plays for the Milwaukee Bucks. I was scheduled to meet with a few others. Red said he would drive down and knocked on my door and he was in sweats. He put on his suit and tie to have an interview with me. The experiences I have had with these individuals, is that I learned a lot about them and they learned a lot about me. It has been about we (Coach K. and him). We feel right now we have committed, our guys get it. I used the word mission before, and that describes where we are. MK: As for the state of U.S. basketball, we have an opportunity not only in Beijing, but how to play the game right here in our own country. The things that make team basketball what it is. An ethical example of service. Not just a highlight of a dunk, but a better appreciation of the game. Our guys did that last summer. They were very unselfish. Q: Can you have success short of a gold medal' JC: Once you put the infrastructure in place...there has to be an objective beyond fixing the house...ultimately to win the gold medal. We not only have a goal to win it, we want to do it in the right way. It is called mutual respect. It goes well beyond winning a gold medal, continuity. We think we can do it. Q: What do you think of the Chicago 2016 bid' MK: As far as Chicago hosting, there can not be a better city. It is like the world. It is a city of great people and a great sports city. I hope the efforts of the City of Chicago to get the Olympics are successful. JC: I look at Lake Shore Drive, the lake, the amenities. The plan to build the facilities and the facilities that exist. It would be a very exciting time for the city and the United States. It would be great. Q: How shocking was the defeat at the 2006 World Championships against Greece' MK: I don't think we should be shocked at how good our opponents are. They beat us because they played better than us. Through defeat, it accelerates your learning. I have loved coaching against the international teams because you learn. We use that as an experience to get better. That means you haven't prepared well. Shock means you lose to someone you can't lose to. JC: We have some big decisions to make at 12. Because at certain positions we are overloaded.... It is going to be a tough selection. Things happen. We have to monitor the injury, Chris Paul is certainly in the mix. MK: Where the program has gone now, is that all of these guys want to play for their country. It is a good problem to have. If that is our biggest problem, that is a good problem to have. Q: How valuable is the staff' JC: Everyone on the staff is there for a particular reason; they bring credentials to the table. When you bring that all together, and as Coach K and I discussed what we wanted as a staff, it was perfect. Mike has made huge contributions because of that international experience. MK: Mike (D'Antoni) having the experience of international basketball is very important for us. To the extent of calling them co-head coaches, each will have a scouting report. I will add to it. Not to adjusting to the head coach, we are all adapting to one another. There will be a time out, put in a side out of bounds. They feel free to exchange things because it is not all mine. They are team oriented. Q: How much contact do you have with the players' MK: We are friends so we might get a call from one of the players, not to which you are intrusive. Send things out in the mail once a month. Send them a book. To a place, we are friends. We are a team right now, not a selection of all-stars. This is the final step of this four year period. Our goal is to win the gold medal, but it is also to do it the right way. To be a program where players will want to be a part of it in the future. Now we just need to win the gold medal. Q: How is the U.S. game' JC: We knew that outside shooting was an issue... In looking at the international game, it is a different game. There are different rules, there are a lot of zones. In looking at a roster, shooters come at a premium. There will be games, and there will be situations where you will need to call on that. People accepting the role, we have a good team of scorers and shooters. Michael Red is a real weapon. MK: We have a starting five. They are all-stars on their own teams. They have to have the ego that they are part of a team. He has earned the respect of all the guys. You know you have a team when Michael shoots, we all shoot. He is playing less minutes for us. Obviously we have other shooters. He is an energizer shooter, to have a guy like him is valuable. Q: (Inaudible_) Chauncey Billups' MK: Are you being punished' I don't want someone from Detroit treated badly. Billups is a pro's pro. He is an automatic free throw shooter. He can play two positions. He is an outstanding shooter. He has been a champion. He has been an MVP. He understands by being on the Pistons what it means to win a championship. JC: Our problem is that we are in love with a lot of players, more than 12. Tayshaun Prince is an invaluable weapon. His addition last summer paid dividends. Q: With Chris Paul, what impresses you most' MK: I don't think he needs to adjust that much. When he played for us two summers ago, he was really college age. These guys are getting older; he has jumped away the way the Hornets thought he would, how we thought he would. Another member of his team, Tyson Chandler, opened it up for Chris, has also been a good defender. JC: The team we had in the World Championships was not necessarily the team we would have had if everyone had been healthy. Chris Paul was a young player and was a little bit of a stretch to have him on the roster. I will add Dwight Howard into that category; he now has a lot of experience and we have seen development in him as well. Q: What will be your methodical planning, logistics once you go to Beijing' JC: We can both respond to that. First of all, we talk about it all the time. I gave Coach K as much space as he wanted and needed during his Duke season. But we would talk about everything we needed A to Z, soup to nuts. The last thing we would want to be in a position of is that we didn't cover all of our bases. We need to also show some flexibility because things happen. I went to Beijing to get the lay of the land... So I think I have a leg up in terms of things to expect, and we are better prepared as a result. Coach has a way of preparing, Challenges, distance, the games being played there, and once we get to Beijing preparing there. Q: What about players who seek advice on being a social activist' MK: When we have a mini-camp, we will discuss that_ They have the freedom of speech. To put it in a context of representing their country. To follow their heart and what they believe in. To understand, though, that what they are saying represents the USA basketball team. Q: What is an athlete's responsibility to speak out' JC: I don't think an athlete has a responsibility to, they have a right to. On one hand you can say to focus on the games. I think we can unify countries with the Olympic spirit. That is what we are all about, not to use a platform. But the individual has a right to, but I don't think they have the responsibility to. MK: Sometimes you do more by what you do and not what you say. To show among competitors, people working together and doing good things. None of these athletes have a responsibility to be political. They have the responsibility to represent their country. Q: (Inaudible) MK: We are going to talk about two guys we love. We are like teenagers at a dance; we fall in love with everyone. In our case, it is well founded. Carlos Boozer will be competitive for a spot. This is an extreme case; he is one of the best players. Deron Williams is one of the best guards in the world. I'm impressed with not only how well he played, but how he accepted his role. Whatever you want coach. You all would be amazed at how cooperative he is. I have not had any problems with the two teams from the past two summers. JC: He is sugar coating this. Carlos played for him at Duke and Deron Williams played at my alma matter. They probably have a good shot. Q: In the making of the 2004 roster, what emotions were you going through' JC: The '04 team was put together at the last minute. There were a lot of young players. 19 and 20 year olds were added to the roster and it was way too early for them. The lack of prep and lack of commitments led to the outcome. Also, in watching the games, body language to me has always been a key component to basketball. It wasn't pretty. That is as simple and honest as I can be. It was just a very bad... when I saw what people wrote about that team, it was pretty evident that there needed to be a change.
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