Jerry Colangelo Rumors
Colangelo would soon take it up a notch, making sure everyone in attendance hadn’t forgotten he now serves as chairman of the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, and declaring to the game’s all-time No. 3 assist man: “I want to say this to you without reservation … you will be a first-ballot electee.”
Just over a year ago in Chicago, Gregg Popovich raised the question with commissioner Adam Silver at the annual NBA coaches meeting: How did the USA Basketball national coaching job turn into a lifetime appointment for a college coach? “Isn’t an NBA coach good enough to coach NBA players?” is one of the queries to Silver that peers in the room remembered Pop asking of the commissioner. Pop offered several candidates, including Doc Rivers, as deserving of a chance to coach the Olympic team. All around Pop, NBA head coaches nodded with agreement. Popovich never offered his own name, though. Popovich had once wanted the job, but would never campaign now – and truthfully never thought it possible as long as Jerry Colangelo was running USA Basketball. Popovich and Colangelo had a nine-year cold war that started to thaw with a telephone call in March, league sources told Yahoo Sports on Friday.
Months of consideration ensued for Popovich, including a full day of face-to-face conversations between Colangelo and him in July, league sources said. Through the years, so much had happened to push them far apart. They had been part of a nasty Suns-Spurs rivalry, and Colangelo’s longstanding, close partnership with David Stern had done little to ease Popovich’s suspicions about him.
In an interview with me in 2005, Colangelo said, Popovich “had a bad taste in his mouth regarding his most recent experiences with USA Basketball, some bitterness, and that came out in my conversation with him. He seemed burned out by it. … He just wasn’t as enthusiastic as Mike.” Those comments to Yahoo Sports – along with other public statements – moved Popovich to write a letter to Colangelo that was carbon copied to several top officials in the league office, league sources told Yahoo Sports. In the letter, Popovich essentially told Colangelo: Don’t you dare suggest that I had anything but a deep desire to be the USA’s national coach. Mostly, Pop told him: Just stop talking about me.