Mike Krzyzewski announced Tuesday that he will not return as Head Coach of the USA Men’s National Basketball team and that the committee will likely name his successor this summer.
Krzyzewski led Team USA to two consecutive gold medals in the ’08 Beijing Olympics and the ’12 London Olympics, a vast improvement over the subpar performances the team had put together before his arrival, which included a sixth-place finish in the 2002 World Championships, which took place in their own country, and a bronze-medal finish in the ’04 Greece Olympics.
This is a shame to hear, because Coach K led the charge in the restoration of USA as the premiere basketball powerhouse in the world. He loved the hell out of coaching the team, and the players loved the hell out of playing for him.
In 2008, Kobe Bryant, star shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, had this to say about Coach K:
“Coach K, one of the things he was stressing to me all the time was to be who I am, to be a scorer. I never had a coach come up to me and say, ‘We want you to shoot it, shoot it, shoot it.’ “
LeBron James, star small forward of the Miami Heat, said this about Coach K:
“We have a great relationship,” James said. “We’ve been together since ’05, and our relationship has grown every year. I’ve grown from a young man into a man into a leader of that team. He’s helped me develop that. I give a lot of credit to him.”
Dwayne Wade, on LeBron and Coach K:
“And if you can pick one college coach to play for, obviously, Coach K tops that list for many. They took their relationship personal; he pushed him. And [James] didn’t get that experience. You can tell they both really loved it.”
These are premiere players, all of whom have experience with some of the best coaches in the world, yet, they still recognize Mike Krzyzewski as one of the better coaches and human being in basketball.
It’ll be interesting to see who takes over for him, but we can discuss this later. For now, let’s focus on Coach K, the man who returned the United States of America to the top of the basketball world. There are those who say he was dealt a hand he couldn’t lose with, but I’m willing to bet every person who spent significant time with that team would tell you he was the glue who held it all together.
For seven years, basketball fans got a chance to experience the wonderful human being that Duke fans get to experience every day, and I think that is awesome. While I would love for him to keep coaching the team forever, but, as they say, all good things must end.
So, yes, Coach K’s story as head coach of the USA basketball team is over, but it was a heck of a read.
Thank you for all your contributions, Coach.