Chuck Daly quickly got an idea of the impact of being named coach of the 1992 U.S. Olympic men's basketball team, which will include NBA players for the first time.
"I got home from Milwaukee at 2:32 this morning," Daly said Friday. "At 2:40, I got a call from a friend on the West Coast. He said, `I want two for Barcelona."'Hot ticket, hot team, and Daly, best coach in the world's best league, is the perfect choice to lead it. He has coached successfully on every level of basketball, from high school to the pros. He is universally admired and respected, and has just the deft touch needed to blend a collection of towering talents and egos into a cohesive, united, motivated team.
"Chuck's an extremely bright man with great people skills and a world of experience and knowledge," said Heat Coach Ron Rothstein, an assistant under Daly with the Pistons. "He'll do things other coaches don't have the capacity to do - step back and see the other side. His ego never gets out of control."
Daly called his Olympic assignment, "beyond dreams," which is a good way to describe the team he will coach, a team that will re-establish the superiority of American basketball.
Yes, American pros will have to adjust to international rules. Yes, they'll have only a limited time to work together. Doesn't matter. They could get to the gym 30 seconds before tipoff and play underwater. Bawn in the USA. Blowoutski, baby.
Magic Johnson, who has won championships on every domestic level, says a gold medal will make his career complete. Charles Barkley, who tried out but didn't make the team in '84, says he's ready, willing and able for '92. At first disinterested, Michael Jordan's now interested.
Pat Ewing, Karl Malone, David Robinson, Clyde Drexler, Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas, Chris Mullin ... the list of greats goes on and on. They will be joined by the best of college players, from two to four of them, to form a 12-man team Daly predicts "will be as good as any ever put together."