By Paul M. Banks
Last week, the International Olympic Committee visited Chicago to further evaluate the city’s 2016 Olympic bid. This week, Team USA basketball’s most prominent leaders, along with other basketball celebrities from around the nation, will visit Chicago as the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Foundation holds its inaugural “Court of Honor Gala” at Union Station.
The Tuesday evening Gala celebrates the achievements and contributions of Jerry Colangelo, chairman of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and managing director of the USA Basketball senior national team from 2005-2008.
Colangelo, a Chicago native and University of Illinois graduate, assembled the 2008 U.S. Olympic team, coached by another Chicagoan, Duke University coach Mike Krzyzewski, who will speak at the Gala. Krzyzewski guided the “Redeem Team” to Olympic gold in Beijing this past summer.
Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors, a member of the Olympic team, will also speak at the event and former Duke star and current ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas will serve as master of ceremonies. I had an exclusive with Bilas at the NABC’s ESPN Zone mixer on Monday night.
“It’s going to be one of those rooms with all the people who have been great doers in the game of college basketball. I think the biggest development we’ve had over the last 30 years in USA basketball is when Jerry Colangelo took over as Executive Director and formed a real program that we can now build on. We’ve had so many great coaches and players over the years in USA basketball, but we haven’t had the structure to give them the tools they need to be as successful as they can be.
I think the program put in place by Jerry Colangelo, working with Coach K and everybody at USA basketball- that was a big home run they hit in Beijing, but it was also over a three-year period. What they did the three years before was perhaps more important: with the structure, organization, how they choose the team, the commitment that all the players made, it wasn’t just a commitment for the summer, it was a three-year commitment,” Bilas said.
Krzyzewski will also lead a group of some of the nation’s top collegiate coaches in the NABC Foundation’s Ticket To Reading Rewards (TTRR) program. The coaches will visit Chicago middle schools to visit with students and the TTRR program, a reading incentive program that encourages Middle School students to read books outside the classroom and obtain rewards for reading.
In addition to Krzyzewski, coaches scheduled to participate include Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, an assistant coach with the 2008 Olympic team; Mike Brey of Notre Dame; Jeff Capel of Oklahoma; Tom Izzo of National Runner-up Michigan State; Bill Self of Kansas, the 2008 NCAA champion; Tubby Smith of Minnesota; Kentucky’s recent hire John Calipari; and Bruce Weber of Illinois.Follow paulmbanks