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NEW YORK — Sources confirm Jerry Colangelo has been quietly chosen to preside over the U.S. Olympic basketball selection committee and overhaul it how he sees fit.

A perfect place to start is at coach. If the former Suns’ owner knows what’s good for the team he won’t think twice about promoting Gregg Popovich, highest ranking assistant when Team USA strangled into sixth place in Indianapolis and staggered into third in Athens.

As many as seven players from that bronze-medal finisher will be representing their respective franchises in Denver on Feb. 20 at the All-Star Game; two of them, despite barely breaking a sweat, are legit MVP candidates.

LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire sure must have learned a lot practicing for Larry Brown; something James outright denied earlier this season, by the way.

The Cavaliers and Suns should be grateful to him for enabling them to stay fresh for this season.

Obviously, Brown didn’t like (or appreciate) a lot of what he saw from James and Stoudemire (Emeka Okafor and others) during their month together.

Obviously, there was a lot not to like.

By many accounts, James’ attitude was as distasteful as Carmelo Anthony’s on and off the court; Tim Duncan was as uncooperative regarding outside commitments as those two, I’m told, which is nothing new.

League sources reveal both youngsters, not just Anthony, wrote letters of apology to those concerned.

OK, so in all probability, James didn’t earn quality time while it’s anyone guess why Stoudemire didn’t play an integral part, especially since Duncan always seemed to be in foul trouble.

At the same time, you almost can’t blame James for pouting himself into a corner.

Recklessly critical, insensitive coaches (and teachers!!!) often squelch the enthusiasm and confidence of highly motivated players (students) with one careless, caustic comment.

I remember reading about a play last summer in which James dove for a loose ball and someone praised him for his great hustle.

“When you’re his age you’re supposed to dive on the floor,” Brown grumped unfavorably rather than simply seconding the compliment.

This next incident wasn’t recorded.

Sources say one day James missed a 3-point jumper in an exhibition or practice, I’m unsure which. “You shouldn’t be taking shots that far out,” Brown scolded. “You can’t shoot.”

Yeah, that’s the kinds of inspiring stuff players love to hear from coaches at all levels.

By all means, accentuate the negative and downplay the positive.

In the starkness of such distrust, underscored by escaping blame at all costs for the assemblage and pointing crooked little fingers in all directions but the mirror, is it any wonder Team USA failed to measure up in Athens?

Is it any wonder Ben Wallace and Rip Hamilton wanted to get away from such negativity from the summer?

Brown, of course, must be held primarily accountable for the poisoned atmosphere. But guess who greatly influenced every last decision?

Guess who rubbed almost every player the wrong way with his tough-guy military mindlessness?

Guess who had nothing to offer in terms of attacking and breaking opponents’ zones?

That’s right, Popovich: This season’s Western Conference All-Star coach; a two-time NBA champion, spoiled senselessness by having the luxury of ideal leaders like David Robinson and Duncan to rely on to keep teammates in line regardless of how much he intimidates or humiliates them.

There can’t be a worse candidate for Team USA’s next World Championships/Olympic run than Popovich, it says here.

At the same time, can there be a more competent candidate than Mike Krzyzewski?

The way I hear it, he would love to have the job.

Who cares if a professional has piloted Team USA since NBA players began to participate in 1992?

After finishing sixth and third in the last two international competitions, it seems to me nothing should be written in granite.

If Krzyzewski was appealing enough to be recruited by the Lakers, Celtics, Sixers and numerous other NBA outfits, I assume he’s good enough to coach our country’s Olympic team.

Rafer Alston stalked out of a Toronto practice last week-costing him two games of salary — worth $78,000 — because of an argument with Jim Todd.

The team was scrimmaging and the assistant coach told Alston not to sub himself out on his own after a timeout. Unflattering words were exchanged and, in almost no time, Alston said he quit and bolted.

“Very original,” mocked a teammate.

“He didn’t pull that s–t when he wasn’t making any money,” underlined a concerned friend in an opposing backcourt.

Houston is fervently shopping Maurice Taylor and other demi-macho forwards for another perimeter gunslinger.

The Blazers, overloaded at the power forward position, rejected overtures for Derek Anderson.

They’re also dying for a shooting guard, having finished a close second in the bidding for Vince Carter and unable to tempt the Celtics into trading Paul Pierce.

It’ll be a different story for anyone willing to make Celtics GM Danny Ainge a decent proposal for Mark Blount, Gary Payton and Ricky Davis.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
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