The incident summed up the 2004 Olympic team. Numerous top players had dropped out before the Games due to terrorism threats. As for those who did make the trip overseas, they, well, bombed.
Team USA settled for a disappointing bronze medal in Athens. But that set the stage for the Jerry Colangelo era.
Colangelo, now USA Basketball's chairman, rebuilt how American international teams are chosen and brought back enthusiasm that had waned following Dream Team I in the 1992 Olympics and Dream Team II in the 1994 World Championships.
In one year, Team USA will return to Turkey for the 2010 World Championships. Colangelo, who has never been to the nation, is eagerly anticipating the event.
"I feel good about where we're at," Colangelo said. "We had a terrific summer."
It was a summer in which top players such as LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony finally got a break after three straight offseasons devoted to international play. With the Olympic win having earned automatic qualification for the Worlds, the only USA Basketball senior men's event over the summer was a July camp for which 22 young players were invited in Las Vegas.
Now, with NBA training camps less than a month away, it's time for Colangelo to really hone in on the World Championships, which run Aug. 28-Sept. 12, 2010 in Turkey. In an interview Thursday with FanHouse, Colangelo outlined some of the parameters that will be used in selecting the team.
"We're going to look at the national team roster that had 33 names on it, making deletions and making some additions, and we'll come up with about 25 names by late in the fall," Colangelo said. "That's around the corner, so I need to start talking to guys that represented us in the Olympics and see where they are for the World Championships."
There are 12 holdovers from last summer's Olympics along with the 22 invitees to Las Vegas in July. But point guard Jason Kidd, 36, has said his USA Basketball run concluded in Beijing.
"I would say that is probably true," Colangelo said of Kidd having retired from international competition, although he said he would speak to him as a courtesy.
Colangelo will talk this fall to all the Olympic holdovers. He spoke to seven -- James, Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Deron Williams -- at last February's NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix.
"All of them said yes (about playing in Turkey)," said Colangelo, who in July got a commitment from Mike Krzyzewski about returning as coach at least through the 2012 Olympics in London. "But I will want another discussion with them to see where they stand."
After coming up with a 25-man roster, Colangelo said there could be some additions and deletions by next spring. Then, between 14 and 16 players from that roster will be chosen for a training camp next July in Las Vegas.
The World Champoinships roster will be 12. Colangelo said it's undecided whether USA Basketball might take more than that number to Europe for some exhibition games and pare the roster down just before the big event.
Colangelo said the team likely will play exhibition games before the Worlds in London, Spain and Greece and could play one in Chicago if the city is selected as site of the 2016 Olympics. Colangelo, a native of Chicago Heights, Ill., will be in Copenhagen for the Oct. 2 selection of the 2016 site.
It's considered a no-brainer that Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant, star of the summer camp, will find his way to Turkey. Colangelo didn't do much to dispute that.
"Let's say everybody wants to come back and we have Kevin now, and Kevin Durant is going to replace somebody," Colangelo said of the roster. "Let's put it this way. If the top seven or eight players from the Olympic team all committed (to the Worlds), you're looking at Tayshaun (Prince) and (Carlos) Boozer... and Michael Redd. Those guys will have competition."
Assuming Kidd definitely won't return, Prince, Boozer and Redd, none of whom averaged more than 4.3 points in the Olympics, are unquestionably the most vulnerable players. Even though Prince isn't an All-Star, having made the Olympic team primarily for chemistry reasons, Colangelo insisted he will continue to receive full consideration.
So which of the young players have the best chance to earn trips to Turkey? Colangelo mentioned four who participated in Las Vegas.
"Durant, Rudy Gay and the guard from Oklahoma City, (Russell) Westbrook. And Derrick Rose," Colangelo said. "(Rose) can play better than he did (in Las Vegas) but we don't base our decisions just on two or three days of camp."
Among players not currently on a USA Basketball roster who could emerge, Colangelo cited Clippers rookie forward Blake Griffin. He was going to play in Las Vegas before dropping out due to a shoulder injury.
With point guards Paul and Williams looking good for Turkey and Kidd on the way out, it would appear one spot is at that position. Rose and Westbrook appear to be the top candidates, although Colangelo said it's not a lock the team will carry three true point guards.
"It would depend on how the roster looked," Colangelo said. "Maybe we would think we needed another big man."
For now, Colangelo is hoping America's top players are finally heeding all his convincing about how important the World Championships are. Team USA hasn't won the event since Dream Team II in Toronto in 1994.
The Americans took bronze in 1998 in Greece when minor-leaguers competed due to the NBA lockout. They finished a disastrous sixth in Indianapolis in 2002 with a watered-down roster. And then came the bronze in 2006.
"The World Championships is as important in the eyes of the world (as the Olympics)," said Colangelo, who has dispatched three USA Basketball scouts to the ongoing qualifying Americas qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico and will have at least two at the European qualifying tournament that starts next week in Poland.
Nobody can complain about the job that was done in Beijing. Now, American players only hope their visit to Turkey next year will be a lot more memorable than the last time Team USA played there.