It shouldn't be a selection thing. It should be, ‘If you want to play on the Olympic team, put your name in the hat and we'll have tryouts.' Although they choose those guys, some of them don't really want to play. They just do it because it enhances their marketing. They're doing it for material [reasons] and not because they want to represent their country. I'd rather have ten guys that are going to play hard like the Detroit Pistons instead of guys doing it for marketing.
What if they took the NBA championship team, like the Pistons?
They could take whatever team wins, but then you'll find a lot of GMs don't like their guys playing that much basketball and want them to take some time off. That's why Larry Brown probably told all the Pistons guys to stay home.
Talk about what it's like to be back in Chapel Hill?
It always brings back good memories. I've been away for a while now, but it's always good to come back because I've had great memories here. My four years were great. Everything was a positive and I always enjoy coming back and now that I have my own kids I can tell them the stories, show them in the Smith Center daddy's name hanging in the rafters, pictures on the wall. That means a lot – it means more now than when I was younger and the older guys would try and tell you what it's about. Now that I'm older, I appreciate it a lot more.
What would you like your legacy to be at North Carolina? You seem to be remembered most for being a hard worker and leading the team to the national title …
I would enjoy my legacy to be that … that I was a winner, I helped lead my team … I had a great group of guys – playing with Derrick Phelps, Brian Reese, [Eric] Montross, Henrik Rodl, Donald Williams ... If you match us up against the Fab Five, guys would probably pick the Fab Five nine out of ten. But the way we played as a team, we would have won nine out of ten games I think. And we believed that. I was talking to Coach [Bill] Guthridge today and he said ‘the difference between your team and the teams of the past, is you believed in one another enough that you knew every time we went on the floor that we were going to win.' That was the difference. And that's the difference between the younger guys now and the guys who were able to win that championship.
Sounds similar to Larry Brown's Detroit Pistons this past year …
All the superstars – Richard Hamilton, Chauncy Billups, Rasheed Wallace – everybody sacrificed to make the team better and now they have a championship to show for it.
Coming back to Chapel Hill, do you think the Carolina family is in a better place now?
I don't know, it was Roy [Williams]'s first year. It was surprising that it happened the way it did because Matt [Doherty] was in the system, in the family and we figured it would stay the same. He made some changes and change doesn't work. Coach [Dean] Smith put a system in place, established a way of Carolina basketball, and that's the way it should be. Older guys come back to help the younger guys and the younger guys help the ones that come behind them. That's what we have to get back to. We have to find time to come back and help one another and in those couple years we got away from that.
How often do you come back to Chapel Hill?
I talk to Coach Smith and Coach Guthridge a lot. I have a seven-year-old and a fourteen-month-old and I wasn't able to come back as much as I would have liked. My family is in Dallas and I also had some camps and clinics going on. But from here on out I want to make more of an effort in the summer to come back not only to be a part of the Carolina Pros thing but also to help the younger guys develop like when I came and King Rice, J.R. Reid, Michael Jordan … all those guys were there to show me how it is. You have to come back to help the coaches, help the younger guys because a lot of guys want to play in the NBA and be successful and hearing it from a coach every day can be hard but when you hear it from the guys who have been through it, they get the picture.
On more and more players leaving early for the NBA -
For me as a player, I put my trust in Coach Smith's hands. If he told me to come out after my sophomore year, and I was ready, I would have come out. But I was enjoying college and I wasn't ready to make that jump. And it worked out for me – I've been able to play 12 years in the NBA and I'll probably play about five or six more. My learning experience at Carolina in those four years has made me a better person.