We’ve all done this: After a really difficult project, no matter how rewarding it was, right afterward we say “no way, I’m never doing that again.” Then six months later we look back on it and think “you know, it wasn’t that bad” and talk ourselves into doing it again.
That’s Mike Krzyzewski and coaching Team USA.
After saying no for months it became official Thursday morning — he will coach Team USA for four more years, through the 2016 Olympics in Rio. It was announced at a press conference on the Duke campus.
“It is tough to give up something you’ve absolutely loved doing for seven years, the people you’re doing it with, and most importantly, the country you’re doing it for,” Krzyzewski said in a released statement. “As a result of my ongoing desire to coach, I’ve decided I’d like to continue as head coach of the Men’s National Team especially since USA Basketball wanted me to do so. It just seems like the right thing to do.
“There is no greater honor than to coach your country’s team and to be afforded the unique opportunity to be the National Team coach three times is incredible.”
In those past seven years, he was 62-1 as Team USA coach and helped lead the team to two gold medals. More importantly, the game’s elite players respect and want to play for Krzyzewski (and like at all levels, talent wins out on the court). LeBron James said he has a lot of respect for Coach K and may well be back for 2016.
“The news on Coach K with USA Basketball is great,” said Kobe Bryant, who was part of the last two Team USA rosters but seems far less likely for 2016 as he will be 37. “He is an incredible coach who worked tirelessly to prepare us for different opponents. Even as a veteran, I learned a lot from his leadership. I appreciate all he’s done over the years for USA Basketball and our country in this position. I think Team USA is in great hands for the next four years.”
USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo did a very good job of being patient and waiting Coach K out. He said he wanted to wait out the college basketball season before making a decision (he said he wanted a coach in place before a Team USA mini-camp this summer in Las Vegas for young players that USA Basketball wants to see up close). There were other qualified coaching candidates out there — Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers — but Colangelo knew he had time and just waited Krzyzewski out.
Expect some changes to Coach K’s coaching staff. Reports are that Mike D’Antoni has turned down a request to return (he has a lot on his plate with the Lakers), other changes may be coming as well.