After the men’s national basketball team suffered a stunning loss to Argentina in the semifinals at the 2004 Olympics, many were stunned and called for a change. For a country that had dominated the sport for so long, winning a bronze medal didn’t seem right. So began the rebuilding and overhaul of the 2008 Olympics in China with Jerry Colangelo leading the charge.
Netflix’s ‘The Redeem Team’ chronicles the work that went into preparing for the 2008 games and how the men’s team, consisting of legends like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, pushed for the ultimate prize. So, if you’re wondering how influential Jerry was to this team and where he might be today, we’ve got you covered.
Where is Jerry Colangelo Now?
Jerry Colangelo was raised in Chicago Heights in an Italian-American working class family. Later, he would say that his childhood had an impact on his life. Jerry added, “I had no relationship with my father. We have never played catch. He never took me to a match. Instead, he was someone that I threatened to murder because of my mother’s abuse. But my sense of family, hard work, and relationships were grounded in the foundation of my early years in the neighborhood.”
After playing basketball in college, Jerry joined Chicago Bulls as team chief, scout and marketing director in 1966. He helped to create promotional giveaways and negotiated a Converse shoe contract. Regarding what makes him tick, Jerry said, “I never had a true mentor . . . but I have relied upon many people who have had substantial influences on my life.”
When Jerry was only 28, he was appointed general manager of the Phoenix Suns in 1968. Jerry was with the team from 1968 to 2012 and held many roles, including president, CEO, managing general partner, chief executive officer, chairman, and head coach. He was named the NBA Executive Of The Year four times. Then, in 2005, he took control of the men’s National Team Program, marking the beginning of a wildly successful era.
The team hadn’t won any major competitions since 2000 when Jerry took control. So, he started the rebuild in earnest, picking players and a coach without a committee’s involvement. Jerry said, “We had gotten off the course. I was unhappy with how Americans and players viewed me. I wanted to change that. We had to change the culture, and we had to start again. I felt that we had lost respect from the global basketball community. The only way to earn that back was just to show respect and to go about our business.”
Jerry picked Mike Krzyzewski, the head coach at Duke University, North Carolina, to be the national team’s coach and had players like Kobe, LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony play for the team. The 2008 Olympics saw the team win and the team was able to repeat the feat three more times with Jerry as its coach. They had won seven of the nine FIBA Americas and FIBA Americas contests. The overall record was 104-7.
Jerry’s success extended to other sports as well; he brought Major League Baseball to Arizona in 1998 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In 2001, just a few short years after the team’s victory, the team won the World Series, eclipsing the New York Yankees, who were the current champions. In 2015, Jerry was named Chairman of Basketball Operations for Philadelphia 76ers. While he stepped away from the role soon after, he remained as special advisor to the team’s owner.
Jerry was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as well as the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame. He serves as a director of many organizations and has published two books. Jerry is married to Joan since 1961. Their relationship began as a blind date. The couple have four children, and ten grandchildren. Jerry is a principal partner at JDM Partners LLC in Phoenix, Arizona.
Jerry is still active at 82 and takes part in charitable golf events. This, despite selling the Suns and the controlling interest in Diamondbacks. He said, “I’ve been blessed with good health. I’ve had some things along the way, like everyone else. Beat prostate cancer and a few other things, but today, I’m very healthy, and I have a lot of energy. My attitude has always been I’ll go as long as I can and as hard as I can until I can’t.” Furthermore, an annual basketball showcase for college students is named after him.
Learn More: What happened to Jerry Buss?
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