When Jerry Colangelo took over USA Basketball in 2005, it was a program in relative crisis after Team USA finished a disappointing — and unacceptable — sixth in the 2002 FIBA World Championship then third in the 2004 Olympics.
In an effort to build a more cohesive team, Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski required a multi-year commitment from players — if you wanted to play in the Olympics, you had to play in the World Cup two years before as well, plus show up to off-year training camps.
New USA Basketball President Grant Hill is dropping that requirement, he told Joe Varden of The Athletic.
“There’s the notion that we (should) demand or expect two-year commitment from guys, but I’m not sure that necessarily works in this day and age,” Hill said. “People’s willingness and commitment to give two consecutive years to Team USA has changed, so we have to be able to adapt to the times.
“There’s been a considerable amount of interest from players who have already been a part of this, players who have already won gold medals in recent cycles, and then obviously, young players who want to be a part of this,” Hill continued. “I’m confident we’ll get the job done. There may not be, you know, guys who commit two years, like in years past, but I still feel we can have great success.”
Hill added there will be no Team USA mini-camp this summer, a year out from the World Championships.
As much or more than players not wanting to commit, FIBA’s decision to change its World Cup qualifying dates and process hurt the two-year commitment plan.
FIBA’s plan has already had impacts heading into the last World Cup. For example, qualifying games are played during the NBA and European seasons, which is why we send G-Leaguers to represent our nation. However, the bigger issue is FIBA pushed the World Cup itself back to the year before the Olympics (and made it the primary qualifier for the Olympics). Players were somewhat open to an every-other-year commitment, but now the next World Cup is in 2023 and the next Olympics is in Paris in 2024. That’s back-to-back off-seasons committed to Team USA, and players want some time off after the marathon of an NBA season. They didn’t want to do two summers in a row.
Hill, a Hall of Fame player and Olympian, gets that and adjusted.
That said, Hill, his coach Steve Kerr, should still be able to stack enough talent on the roster to win, it’s just the World Cup and Olympics rosters could look very different.