Larry Brown of the Philadelphia 76ers was chosen as head coach of the 2004 U.S. Olympic men's basketball team on Tuesday.

Brown, who won a gold medal as a player at the 1964 Olympics and was an assistant coach on two prior Olympic teams, will guide the team at next summer's Olympic qualifying tournament and the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

"I look at this as an unbelievable honor, one that I don't take lightly," the 62-year-old Brown said in a statement released by USA Basketball. "I will do my very best to represent USA Basketball and the NBA. This is what makes coaching worthwhile."

Brown was chosen by a 10-man selection committee over Phil Jackson of the Lakers, Jerry Sloan of the Utah Jazz and Pat Riley of the Miami Heat.

Brown has the most USA Basketball experience of any in the group, which no doubt was a significant factor in his selection. Brown was an assistant on Rudy Tomjanovich's staff at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney when the U.S. team survived a scare from Lithuania in the semifinals and went on to win the gold by defeating France.

"Larry Brown is clearly among basketball's most successful and respected coaches," USA Basketball president Tom Jernstedt said. "His contributions to the game and achievements at all levels make him the ideal coach to lead the United States' international basketball efforts through the 2004 Summer Olympic Games."

The United States is 109-2 in Olympic history, but the Americans finished a disappointing sixth at last summer's World Championships - losing for the first time when using NBA players in an international competition.

Tracy McGrady, Tim Duncan, Jason Kidd and Ray Allen have already contacted USA Basketball to say they're willing to play in 2003 and 2004.

A core group of eight or nine players is expected to be announced by February, with Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant expected to be shoo-ins if they accept invitations to play.


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