That, Colangelo says, was his best selling point as he began to try to rebuild the program after Athens. As he talked to America's best players, his refrain hit the one note he knew that they could not resist: respect. America had lost it in the basketball-playing world, and he was going to get it back – and players either had get on board or watch someone else get the unadulterated glory and honor of their country.
"The world basketball community doesn't think very much of American basketball in general and its athletes individually because of their arrogance," he recalled saying to the players he met. "If you want to be committed, you have the change the culture – you have to show respect to get respect."
Then he added the kicker: "If we do it, it will be one of the great moments of your life," he said, speaking of the Beijing Games. "And it was, to a man."
And that is what has become apparent here – what could not be clear until another four years had passed after Beijing. Unlike the Dream Team of Barcelona, which struck with an incandescence that blinded the world but then diminished, the Redeem Team of Beijing was only a first step.
Here in London, the team is, if anything, playing better than it did in Beijing – despite a rash of key injuries. Its 83-point destruction of Nigeria devastating to behold, its 126-97 destruction of Argentina in the preliminary rounds clinical. Along the way, the team has conducted itself with commitment and respect. And what's more, they're hooked.
When NBA Commissioner David Stern spoke of a desire to limit the Olympic men's basketball tournament only to players age 23 and under – as is the case in Olympic men's soccer – members of the current team spoke out against the idea.