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|Jerry should be smiling the way the Suns are playing right now.|
|The players seem to be getting used to the new rules -- well, except for Rasheed maybe.|
If the NHL instituted a dress-code policy, would there ever have been any discussion about it? One of the things that happened in the NBA, that's not true with the other sports, is that we kind of played off the hip-hop generation as a league and so did some of our athletes. We got into it in other businesses. They were doing records and doing this and doing that and the attire. That became kind of a look. And so that kind of created a little bit of a monster in my opinion. From my standpoint, you want to appeal to all segments of society in terms of fans. You want the young kids. You want kids from every socioeconomic background to be NBA fans. Was it a mistake for the NBA to forge such a strong relationship with hip-hop culture? I think there was some risk involved. There was so much emphasis on it. But shoe companies and people who sold a lot of product, they saw a marketplace there and they tied up with the NBA to sell themselves and the product. I would rather look at the past and say, you learn from those experiences and you go forward. You never go backwards. I think we've learned a lot of lessons along the way about who we are and how we should promote ourselves and what needs to be done as we go forward. As we go forward, I think we're in good shape. So, given the exposure and the racial makeup of the league, how careful does the league have to be when it institutes rules that some people interpret as anti-African-American? Well, personally, I don't see color as being a determinant in what decision is made at all. You're always aware of the potential for people to take issue with a decision when it's made. It's almost become common for people to go there right away. That's even unfair. Ninety-nine percent of the decisions that are made are based on the merits of what needs to be done. It has nothing to do with anything other than that. How much has the return of team basketball helped the NBA's image? In the past, we really emphasized promoting our stars. At the time, it was probably the appropriate thing to do. It's probably time to de-emphasize superstars and sell more team concept because that sells too. The more exposure and visibility a lot of guys on the team have, the better it is for them as individuals, the better it is for an organization, the better it is for interest, in my opinion, rather than putting your hopes on a star. Spread the wealth a little bit. We should balance that out a little bit. I think the team concept has a way of making that happen. I'll switch over to USA Basketball. In putting together a team, we weren't putting together an all-star team. So when you talk about the composition of the team, there is only one ball, so many scorers on the team. You need defenders, distributors, shot-blockers, rebounders, guys who are willing to accept roles. Because if you have 12 stars on the roster, it's not that easy. But the U.S. team that was assembled does have a lot of star power. Oh, I know that, but it's not 12. Now, the team that everyone compares every team to was the Dream Team. That happened to be a team with a lot of stars, but they were mature. They were veterans. They had been there. They had won championships. It was a different era, a different time. When that team stepped out on the floor, the opposition was in awe. So much has happened since '92 that teams internationally are not in awe. They've now established themselves as players in the NBA. And they know they can play with our guys. The times have changed. It's even more important now to have the right composition because putting a group of stars together would be even more difficult to get over the hump. I hesitate to use this word, but what went "wrong" at the FIBA World Championships last summer? Nothing really went wrong, and I'll tell you why I say that. One of the things I wanted to do was change the perception people had of us around the world, as Americans, as basketball players. Our image was really poor. Where we came off of in terms of the Olympics in Greece, our own fans were booing our players. Pretty sad. It was kind of overwhelming to think you could change that attitude and perception, and I had a plan. I wanted commitments for three years from our coaches and our players for the World Championships and the Olympics. I wanted our guys to handle themselves appropriately. I was concerned about what they said, what they did, how they acted, what they looked like. I told them there wouldn't be any nonsense. This is what I expect. This is the rule. When this is all said and done, I promise you it's going to be one of the great experiences of your life. If we're successful, you'll be able to look back at that and say it was all worth it.
|Things didn't go quite as planned against Greece, but Colangelo is still optimistic.|