There’s a few interesting quotes from USA Basketball’s Jerry Colangelo, collected today by ESPN.com’s Phil Sheridan, that may or may not have you questioning the level of rhetoric the former Suns owner chooses to employ with the very NBA titans he might depend on.
In a blunt retort to LeBron James’ statement that he is only “50-50” on playing for the United States at the Tournament of the Americas Olympic qualifying tournament, Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo told ESPN.com that James could be jeopardizing his status as one of the five or six core players for the Beijing Olympics.
“Unless people have a legitimate reason for not participating, I expect them to uphold their three-year commitment. I’m standing by my commitment and I expect people to stand by theirs. If someone chooses not to participate just because they’d rather not play, that person would put himself at risk as far as who ultimately represents us at the Olympics,” Colangelo said.
James gave his “50-50” prognosis last month, saying: “Right now, I’m 50-50. My girlfriend is expecting another [baby] in June. Health is always an issue. You have to re-evaluate things, go through the season, go through the playoffs and then look at it afterward.” James has waffled to varying degrees throughout the season when questioned on the subject, repeatedly saying he wants to sit down with his family to discuss it after the NBA season.
But his “50-50” comment clearly did not sit well with Colangelo, who excused two players last summer for personal reasons (Michael Redd had longstanding wedding plans that conflicted with the World Championship schedule, and Chauncey Billups wanted to be with his wife for the birth of a child).
“I’m not giving out a free pass, that’s my point,” Colangelo said, emphasizing that he expects the same level of commitment from everyone on the roster, not just James. “You have to look at each individual situation and weigh it.”
Colangelo also said he wants to have a clear-the-air meeting with Gilbert Arenas, whose departure from the team during an exhibition tour of South Korea was less than amicable. Colangelo said he unsuccessfully tried to contact Arenas when he was in Washington last weekend, getting a message that Arenas’ voice mailbox was full.
“We need to have a conversation, and he needs to say some appropriate things,” Colangelo said.