Friday, August 29, 2008

On The Tunney Side of the Street #192, Sept. 1, 2008 (

On the Tunney Side of the Street - #192 - September 1, 2008

“If we didn’t have great character, we would not have been able to beat another team that does,” said U.S. Olympic Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski ( Great character? Are we talking about the U.S. Pro Basketball players (most of them anyway) who lost the “Gold” in Athens in 2004 and the “Dream Team” who did so poorly in Barcelona in 2000?

With many of those “Dream Team” players on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Basketball team playing in China, how in the world did CHARACTER get involved? Let me suggest the name “Coach K.” Yes, the Duke University Basketball Coach ( You mean a college coach pulled this T.E.A.M. of professional players together by infusing character into their lineup? Precisely!

Coach K took Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Jason Kidd and the other NBA stars and redeemed U.S. Olympic Basketball to Gold status. Thus the sobriquet - Redeem T.E.A.M ( Team Captain Jason Kidd, of the Dallas Mavericks (, said it best, “It’s all about each other.” In fact, as the Redeem Team players stood on the podium with Gold medals hanging from each one’s neck, and our national anthem being played, Captain Kidd reminded them to “put your hand over your heart, because in the emotion of the ceremony, it’s easy to forget about our country and what it means.”

What a turnaround. Critics talk about the very rich NBA players being selfish, arrogant and the like. What we saw in Beijing was a team becoming a united force to overcome adversity, as it did in the Gold game against Spain (a team with character), who came close to an upset. Further, those NBA All-Stars went throughout the Olympic Village signing autographs ad nauseam, attending Women’s Basketball games, Swimming, Soccer, Beach Volleyball, Track and Field and other events in support of their fellow athletes.

Since these players were many of the same NBA All-Stars who embarrassed the U.S.A. in Barcelona and Athens, the turnaround MUST be attributed to Coach K and his staff who brought character and respect - traits that every athlete must possess - to each player.

Speaking of respect, overlooked appreciation is due for Olympian Decathlete Bryan Clay. While all remember his noteworthy predecessors - Bob Mathias, Rafer Johnson, Bruce Jenner -to name just a few, Clay, who won the Decathlon Silver in 2004, led after EVERY event in 2008. The Decathlon is a grueling competition of 10 track and field events contested in just 2 days. This event recognizes the best of athleticism. Well done, Bryan! (

Will you keep character and respect first and foremost in everything you do?

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