Grant Hill wasn’t looking for new things to do.
He is on the board of trustees at his alma mater Duke, where he played for Mike Krzyzewski. He is an investor, broadcaster, public speaker, member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, co-owner and vice president of the Atlanta Hawks, and a member of the Board of Directors of the NCAA.
He says no to many things. And then USA Basketball was calling.
That call caused Hill to add another job to his portfolio. When the Tokyo Olympics end, he will replace Jerry Colangelo and become managing director of USA Basketball’s men’s national team – a most challenging task he begins with the Americans just months away from qualifying for the 2023 Basketball World Cup. And together we already have an eye on the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“Another opportunity to represent my country, to serve my country in this capacity, that was the reason for me,” Hill said. “I think it’s also important to understand how important the Olympic experience was to me in 1996 and want to help build and be a part of that again for young people who come through the NBA. It’s almost in many ways.” There is a calling.”
Hill will not be in Tokyo for the Olympics, where the US will play under Greg Popovich after Krzyszewski’s three-Olympic, three-gold-medal race finish. Hill’s absence is only due to logistical challenges; The rules do not allow unlimited personnel with a team even in non-pandemic times, so Hill’s personal involvement with the team selected for the Tokyo Games was limited to his training camp in Las Vegas.
He spent time with Colangelo whenever he could, putting his mind on whatever came to mind, even in chat on the team bench minutes before exhibition games.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to have him be that person,” Colangelo said. “When Coach Kay and I put things together in ’05, ’06, we talked about building the infrastructure that would continue after we left. And I believe that’s exactly what happened. “
Not that Hill needs to see what the Olympics are like. He has a gold medal, which helped America win one at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
His mission now: Take the torch from Colangelo and win more, and much more.
“Grant has been around us for years and our training camp, because of the relationship with me, of course the coach, with his coach in college,” Colangelo said. “He is very aware. There has been a lot of conversation. There will be a lot of conversation. And it’s not rocket science. It really isn’t. It’s all about relationships, and he’s very good at relationships so I pass it on to Grant Hill.” I feel very confident to pass.
Colangelo assumed the role of managing director in 2005, after losing three games to the Americans at the 2004 Athens Olympics and ending with an extremely disappointing bronze medal. His job since then has been to oversee the selection of players and coaches for the senior national team – and he has the chance to end his run with four Olympic golds in four attempts.
“No question, these are big shoes to fill,” Hill said. “Jerry has been incredible. His vision, his strategic thinking, his will to make it a success. He commands a room with his presence. I’ve seen other people who have been legends in the game, that’s all for them It’s an honor, and rightly so. I mean, I’m sitting with him and just talking about his career. There were a lot of things I didn’t know about his various contributions to the game of basketball.
No matter whether the Americans win or lose in Tokyo, Hill will have to move quickly.
Qualifying for the World Cup will resume in November, almost certainly with players from the G League. While coaching decisions will have to be made to begin recruiting NBA players for the next World Cup, plans to try to form a core group for both the 2023 tournament and the Paris Games will be considered.
He is curious. He believes he is ready too.
“I had an incredible race as an athlete,” Hill said. “And now, with this particular sport still working and serving in many roles, it’s consistent and it’s in line with what I think about the game of basketball. It’s an incredible leadership opportunity, one.” Incredible challenge, but it really stems from a love of the game and wanting to continue to work in it and serve it and make it better for those who come after us.”