Former UNC head coach Dean Smith supported Mike Krzyzewski to help him become the men’s national team coach for USA Basketball.
Mike Krzyzewski has excelled as the U.S. men’s national team coach since taking over the program in 2005. However, it was former North Carolina head coach Dean Smith, one of Coach K’s greatest rivals, who helped the Duke coach become the head coach for USA Basketball.
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USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo took over the program in 2005 after the U.S. lost three games and finished with a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics and held a meeting with all of the top NCAA and NBA basketball coaches. Both Krzyzewski and Smith were in attendance, and the Hall of Fame UNC coach endorsed Coach K to be the next national team head coach saying, “Look, there is only one college coach on that board who can get the job done. And that’s Coach K”.
Luckily, Smith was able to put aside the fierce school rivalry between Duke and North Carolina when it came to picking someone to represent the country and lead the USA Basketball team. Colangelo was also surprised to hear Dean Smith’s support for Mike Krzyzewski, and noted:
"“Now that was a special moment. If you were a basketball fly, that’s the wall you wanted to be on that day. With all that discussion, with all the great basketball minds that were there that day, that was special – his biggest rival supporting him. That was a special moment for me.”"
Duke Men’s Basketball head coach recently concluded a historic international coaching career with an all-time best 88-1 record, 76 consecutive wins, two FIBA World Championships, and three Olympic gold medals. He will still be involved with the program going forward working as a special advisor for USA Basketball in the future.