BOCA RATON, FLA., SEPT. 13 -- The fog began to lift on the NBA-collegiate combination that will form the 1992 U.S. Olympic team. On the first day of NBA league meetings here, the Olympic subcommittee of the USA Basketball Council established the first criteria for the team.
The subcommittee eliminated the long Olympic trial process. The team will be selected by the Games Committee of Men, a 12-member panel consisting of NBA and college coaches.
The Olympic coach will be an NBA head coach with at least eight years general experience as a coach. This coach also will have to have three years experience as an NBA head coach, and must have been an NBA head coach in two of the three seasons before his selection.
The head coach also must not have any conflict of interest with the Games, which was not specifically defined but likely would include anyone working, for example, as an agent. The question of Pat Riley, the former Lakers coach now working for NBC as a studio host, was left up in the air.
The leading candidate for the Olympic job is Golden State's Don Nelson, a two-time NBA coach of the year who has said he would coach the team if asked. Former Denver coach Doug Moe has been interested as well. San Antonio Coach Larry Brown, a former Olympic player, is also on most lists.
But eliminated from consideration is Mike Krzyzewski, the Duke coach who headed the U.S. team at the recent Goodwill Games and world championships and who is also on the subcommittee.
The team will consist of both NBA and college players, though no breakdown was given. The team selected by the committee will represent the United States in both the qualifying tournament for the region -- which must conclude by July 5, 1992, three weeks before the Games begin -- and the Games.
"It was felt that NBA players playing for the first time would have a comfort level playing for an NBA coach who understood the relationship that existed between players and coaches," said Dave Gavitt, president of USA Basketball and vice president of the Celtics.
The rest of the staff will consist of one NBA head coach and two college head coaches. The college coaches will have to be active head coaches with a minimum of five years' head coaching experience in either the pros or college, with "considerable" experience in international basketball. One of the two must head a Division I program and have five years' experience at the Division I level.
"This certainly wasn't a judgment on the quality or the expertise of those who coach in the college game," Gavitt said. "Similarly so, because the NBA coaches hadn't been able to be involved before, the majority of the experience and the knowledge of our opposition and the rules and all the ways that they cheat us and fool around with us lies in the college committee. Having a mixture of the two, we cover both bases."
The committee hopes to have some idea of which pros are interested by February 1992. Those who express an interest and are chosen will likely have to play despite the possibility of a long run in the NBA playoffs.
"We would hope to have the team announced and in place" by then, said C.M. Newton, chair of the subcommittee and athletic director at Kentucky, "so you could have a minicamp or something like that. . . . I would imagine we would get the commitment of the player, regardless. We would have to."
The recommendations by the subcommittee will be voted on by the full counsel Oct. 2 in Colorado Springs. Once adopted, the subcommittee will reconvene in November to begin nuts-and-bolts decisions.
There are NBA rules that will be looked at as well. Among the potential changes to be discussed by the Competition Committee is making the three-point line more uniform. There is a proposal to move the line from 23 feet nine inches at the top of the circle to 20 feet six inches. The line is at 22 feet in each corner.
Another proposal would attack flagrant fouls. The league cracked down on breakaway fouls by giving referees more discretion during the playoffs. A new rule would give the same penalty for flagrant fouls -- two technical fouls plus possession -- that currently exists for breakaway fouls.