Olympic Basketball’s Next Dream Team

USA Basketball recently gave full authority for the Senior Men’s Basketball Team to Jerry Colangelo. Over the weekend, Ray Allen suggested young NBA professionals should be paid if the good ole USA wants to send its best a brightest and avoid another monumental flop, like the 2003 World Championships and the boronze medal at the Athens Olympics.

Colangelo hopefully understands there are significant differences between the NBA and International games, a glaring mistake of the past regime, as evidenced by its selections.

Different experts have suggested different means of correcting the problem. My solution, however, is unique: send second round draft picks and hire Rick Majerus as the standing National Team Head Coach. Dick Vitale has lobbied for Coach K, but he has a day job that keeps him pretty busy. Majerus is paid to watch basketball, but has a passion for coaching. His heart prevents him from coaching full time, but the National Team would only require a couple months a year, and Majerus is as brilliant a basketball mind as there is in this country.

The second round draft pick decision is logical for three reasons:

1) One criticism is that the 2004 Olympic Team did not play with the fire and passion of other countries. Who in the NBA plays harder than a player in a contract year? And, who is constantly in a contract year, fighting for the guaranteed contract, playing with a chip on their shoulder because all thirty teams passed on them? Second Round picks. You can go to battle with guys like Memphis’ Brian Cardinal, San Antonio’s Bruce Bowen, and Sacramento’s Brad Miller and know they will leave it all on the floor.

2) Where are the players in the NBA who make it on shooting ability drafted? Second rounders like Philadelphia’s Kyle Korver, Charlotte’s Jason Kapono, Philly’s Willie Green, Bowen, Indiana’s Stephen Jackson, Seattle’s Rashard Lewis and others would excel in the International game.

3) Where are the role players, the dive on the floor, knee-burn players drafted? Secound-rounders like Memphis’ Earl Watson and Cardinal would be much tougher and scrappier than a team of All-Stars.

In other words, these are the players made for the International game, which places the emphasis on shooting, moving without the ball and defending cutters, not dribblers.

Give Rick Majerus 30 days with Gilbert Arenas, Troy Hudson, Rafer Alston, Jason Hart, Earl Watson, Jason Kapono, Michael Redd, Bruce Bowen, Avery Johnson, Earl Boykins, Damon Jones, Derek Fisher, Ronald Murray, Steve Blake, Stephon Jackson, Willie Green, Keith Bogans, Travis Hansen, Richie Frahm, Luke Walton, Brian Cardinal, Brad Miller, Carlos Boozer, Malik Allen, Brian Scalabrine, Jake Voskuhl, Jerome James, Rashard Lewis, Juan Dixon, Matt Bonner, Antonio Davis, Marquis Daniels, Bobby Simmons; let Majerus run a training camp along with an assistant coach and a couple Inernational NBA scouts and watch this team win the gold.

The answer is not begging high-priced multi-millionaires to do everyone a big favor and play in the Olympics; the answer is finding some unknown gems dying for the opportunity to prove their worth and their ability on a world-wide stage; guys who will dive on the floor, make open shots, defend with everything they have and quickly pick-up Majerus’ system.

This team would be a little small and lack the marketing power the NBA covets, but at least it would restore Championship pride to American basketball and give the average American a team to get behind.

My squad: PG Gilbert Arenas, Troy Hudson, Damon Jones; SG Michael Redd, Bruce Bowen; SF Bobby Simmons, Rashard Lewis; PF Brian Cardinal, Brian Scalabrine, Matt Bonner; C: Brad Miller, Carlos Boozer.

The team features good on-ball defenders and shooters at the PG position and shooters and a lock-down defender (Bowen) on the wing. Inside, the team has hard workers and shooters.

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