There has been countless stories about the 2012 USA Mens Basketball Team. Most want to compare them to the 1992 team and try to make cases for which team was better. For the most part I wouldn’t waste 10 seconds of my life trying to make arguments for either side. What intrigues me is how twelve players of elite status can put their egos aside over the course of 8 games and come together as one.
Jerry Colangelo did a great job assembling a team that could compete on a global stage. Some of the NBA’s biggest stars not only could handle carrying team USA, but also handle playing very small roles. Andre Iguodala is one of the NBA’s elite defenders and an All-Star talent on the surface had no issue being held to 12 minutes a game. Other players such as James Harden, DeRon Williams, and Russell Westbrook took lesser roles to help the cause.
When I ask others why these NBA stars take lesser roles on Team USA they simply say because of it was for their country to win the gold. My question is if the World’s elite not only on USA Basketball, but also every other national team can check their egos at the door to play as a unit why cant every team do that? I mean does it have to be for an Olympic Gold Medal where egos don’t exist?
I think all players should watch Olympic competition and other FIBA events to see how teams come together. Team basketball no matter if it’s Olympic competition, NBA, college, high school, or junior high school isn’t about individuals its about a unit playing together for one goal. There isn’t a shortage of people jumping on soap boxes and shouting out that the game is too individualized. We all know the majority of players today at the younger levels are selfish and there needs to be something done about it.
It’s important for players to watch replays of Team USA and how unselfish they were. The extra passing and effort on both ends of the floor needs to be emulated at all levels. Players such as Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James making extra passes and giving up shots to put their team in position to win. No question their talent thwarted most of the other Olympic Teams, but as we saw in 2004 and 2006 having the most talent doesn’t guarantee victory.
WIthout question Jerry Colangelo and and Mike Krzyzewski had much to do with the rebirth of USA Basketball. But it also had to do with the character of the players and their attitudes towards playing as a team instead as individuals. As competitors they knew they were the best individually, but understood to turn their team around it would need to be a team effort. When the Boston Celtics assembled their championship team in 2008 Doc Rivers changed their culture defensively. What Doc would tell anyone that would listen his team’s defensive dominance could be traced back to Kevin Garnett. With the team’s best player buying in to guard people and commit to the defensive end the rest of the team followed suit.
For any team to play as a unit it has to start with its best player. It can’t be something that the coaching staff and 10th best player buys into. For as much coaching that coaches do it is almost useless unless players buy in. For basketball to change for the better it needs to be done by players, especially the higher level ones. USA Basketball is such a great example of how the world’s top players come together and except roles. Role acceptance is the first attribute for a winning team.
For today’s player they are much more visual meaning instead of accepting what a coach says because a coach said it that they need to see it preferably at a higher level. To see what USA Basketball accomplished not only individually, but also as a unit will be a great example for all to see. The game of basketball is a beautiful thing to watch when played correctly with passing, spacing, screening, defense, and effort. The more we can do to promote it will better our game at all levels.
As I tour around all levels of basketball role acceptance is more extinct than the dinosaur. If players don’t have the ball in their hands at all times or getting 99% of the minutes they tend to fly off the deep end. Just like anything else I don’t want to condemn all basketball, but must confess this is for most of the club basketball and high school games that I do attend. We need to develop not only the higher level player but also increase the number of role players and acceptance of them. If you watch high level teams deep in the NBA Playoffs play they are zoned in on the team aspect. Sharing the ball, good spacing, efforts on both ends of the floor, and movement are some of the things that are easy to spot.
As in Olympic competition NBA Champions aren’t crowned on just how good the best players are. Role players are just as big of factor in their team’s winning as the top players are. Not only is role acceptance a big part of winning, but also the star players trusting of them. When everyone comes together and plays as one teams will go very far.
People want to celebrate USA Basketball for dominating the world and coming home from London for good reason. For me, I love the fact that 12 elite players can come together to accept their role to win a championship. The world needs to take notes and build a winning formula from this to generations to come. From gold medal to sixth grade championship USA Basketball and their domination is relevant to all levels and all types of players.
– Currently Director of Basketball Operations for ATTACK Athletics in Chicago,IL. Clients such as Kobe Bryant,Dwyane wade, Caron Butler, as well as 75 other NBA players.
– Strategic Game Management Coach to Kobe Bryant