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Leadership is key


Don't tell me that leadership isn't important in the world of athletics. A good leader can transform a program in a short period of time. He can make changes and adjustments within an organization.

Just look at the Detroit Tigers and the job Jim Leyland has done this season. Yes, the man has been a winner as you can see based on what he did in Pittsburgh and Florida. He got his World Series ring with the Marlins.

Leyland instilled discipline and showed leadership into a Tigers franchise that had its share of embarrassing moments in recent years. He has them believing they can play as a team and they care about winning.

I saw a game recently where Marcus Thames slid into second base hard to break up a double play and that move led to the lead run eventually scoring. Little things and his unselfishness, the willingness to give himself up on the play, made the difference. Those moves make players and teams win games.

That is the type of thing happening within USA basketball, starting with the leadership of Jerry Colangelo. He set the tone immediately, going after players with passion and pride. These guys care about wearing the U-S-A across the jersey.

Colangelo got Mike Krzyzewski to coach the team and that was a brilliant move, the coup of all coups. He is so proud to represent his nation, having graduated from the U.S. Military Academy. He has brought that special leadership that is so vital. Now Coach K has a young, dynamic team assembled. It is a T-E-A-M, not just a bunch of stars. This American squad has role players, shooters, good size and a nucleus featuring very talented players like LeBron James and Dwayne Wade.

They have a great asset in their versatility. Many of these players can perform in two or three different positions, allowing Coach K to blend his unit to bring back the gold where it belongs.

The USA is in great, great hands and it is all because of leadership.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.