(Reuters) - USA Basketball chief Jerry Colangelo, one of the sport’s most successful executives, will be tackling a major challenge as he joins the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers as a special adviser and chairman of basketball operations.
Hall of Famer Colangelo, who restructured the U.S. Olympic basketball system and returned American hoopsters to dominance, comes to a Sixers team that tied the NBA record by starting this season 0-18, the club announced on Monday.
“We are excited to add his five decades of knowledge, relationships and experience to help drive our organization forward,” Sixers co-managing owner Josh Harris said in a statement.
Despite a plethora of highly regarded young prospects, the Sixers have experienced sharp growing pains without veteran leadership on the floor.
Going back to last year, the Sixers had strung together a league record 28 losses in a row before snapping their streak against the 2-15 Los Angeles Lakers last week.
“This is an organization with ... a number of promising pieces that have the potential for a very bright future,” Colangelo said.
Colangelo currently serves as chairman of the board of directors for USA Basketball. The U.S. team is 75-1 since he took the helm and currently owns a 63-game winning streak dating back to 2006.
U.S. teams earned consecutive Olympic gold medals (2008 and 2012) and consecutive FIBA World Cup gold medals (2010 and 2014) for the first time in history.
Previously, Colangelo’s long tenure with the NBA Phoenix Suns, spanning from 1968 through 2012, included roles as CEO and chairman, managing general partner, president, head coach and general manager.
“It’s not every day you have the opportunity to work alongside a Hall of Famer with Jerry’s unique set of experiences,” said president of basketball operations and general manager Sam Hinkie.
Colangelo also led an ownership group which secured the Major League Baseball expansion Arizona Diamondbacks to Phoenix for its inaugural season in 1998. Three years later the franchise won the World Series.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes