Colangelo began his career as a player at the University of Illinois, where he was a two-time All-American. He was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 1969 and played for the team for two seasons. After his playing career, he became the Suns' general manager in 1972. Under his leadership, the Suns made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history and went on to become one of the most successful teams in the NBA.
Colangelo was also the general manager of the US men's basketball team that won the gold medal at the 1992 Olympics. He was also the chairman of the NBA Board of Governors from 1995 to 2004. During his tenure, he was instrumental in the creation of the WNBA and the NBA Development League.
Colangelo was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in the history of basketball. He is credited with revolutionizing the way basketball is managed and played. His legacy will continue to live on for generations to come.