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Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball in holding pattern for Olympic plans

Former Phoenix sports franchise owner Jerry Colangelo visits Doug & Wolf on Arizona on Feb. 12, 2019. (Arizona Sports/Matt Layman)

USA Basketball can’t do much to reschedule and begin planning for the Tokyo Olympics after the 2020 games were scrapped and pushed until next summer at the latest.

The coronavirus pandemic is keeping those in charge, including USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo, from doing anything more than waiting out the virus.

“First of all, we’re all committed,” he told Bickley & Marotta of Arizona Sports on Tuesday. “We’re in the trenches, we’re going to see this through. The way I’ve analyzed it, when the virus hit and then the speculation began … I’ve kind of hit a pause button. The pause button is we’re at the mercy of a lot of governing bodies.”

While Colangelo and head coach Gregg Popovich remain committed to lead Team USA into the Tokyo games, there are geopolitical factors to determine the next steps forward.

Then, the International Olympic Committee, United States Olympic Committee, FIBA and the NBA must align with scheduling before Colangelo can go forward with future plans.

“Quite a few entities … we have no choice but to follow them,” Colangelo said. “Now finally, the postponement, which I believe is in everyone’s best interest for very obvious reasons, gives us time to breathe. The way I look at it, guys, every day that goes by is one day closer to the end. We’re going to get there, we’re going to get by it.

“We have a lot of work to do but we can’t actually do anything until we have the dates.”

Colangelo remains optimistic that when the health crisis is in the rearview mirror, many players will want to participate.

USA Basketball named 44 finalists to make the 2020 team’s roster back in February, a list that included Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker. Colangelo said then that the final roster would be whittled down around the beginning of June.

The Olympic games were scheduled to be held from July 24-Aug. 9 with the preliminary group play for men’s basketball starting July 26.

Much needs to happen before USA Basketball’s decisions about the 2021 Olympic team will come into play.

A revamped NBA postseason and regular season schedule — Colangelo is all for progressing and changing the game — will likely play into the Tokyo games and how the Americans prepare for them on the basketball side of things.

Now, Colangelo is simply focused on society overcoming the coronavirus shutdowns and the disease itself.

“When things like this happen, think back to 9/11 and we had our baseball team (the Arizona Diamondbacks) in the middle of that whole situation,” Colangelo said of the impact the virus is having on society. “You put your priorities in place. That’s what’s really important. What I find is that people become more compassionate, more caring, more giving — we just have to make it more consistent in our lives.

“That’s the kind of attitude we need in this world today.”


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