DURHAM, N.C. – When Mike Krzyzewski arrived home from Beijing, China, after leading the USA Basketball Men’s National Team to a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics, the head coach was greeted by his Duke team as he returned to his house following a 20+ hour flight.
That was one of the most memorable moments for Krzyzewski from his Olympic experience and after much deliberation and discussion with friends and family he has decided to resume his head coaching role for the U.S. National Team from 2010-12.
Coach K announced his decision from the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev. on Tuesday.
“I had the feeling of wanting to coach the Olympic Team again right after we won [the gold medal],” Krzyzewski said. “I was not offered it at that time, but when Jerry Colangelo told me, after a little bit [of time] went by, that he would want to do it again, I told him in my heart I want to do it again, but I needed time to go over things with our program here at Duke, my family and to make sure it wasn’t an emotional decision.”
“The first one, you jumped out of your skin wanting to do it, and this time I wanted to take a little bit more time.”
The support Krzyzewski received from the Duke community during his first stint as head coach, from feeling at home in Beijing to the reception he received from Duke supporters at the airport as he returned home, all helped lead to his decision to return to the reigns of the National Team.
“I think all of our players are really proud that we are associated with the National Team,” Krzyzewski said. “All of them say, ‘it’s an honor for us that you have been given this honor, coach’.”
Krzyzewski will lead the USA Basketball Men’s National Team at the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey, if necessary the 2011 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament and, if the United States qualifies, the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England. He will become the first U.S. coach of multiple Olympic teams since Henry Iba, who won gold in 1964 and '68 and coached the team that lost the controversial 1972 gold-medal game to the Soviet Union.
Returning to the bench with Coach K will be assistants Jim Boeheim (Syracuse University), Mike D’Antoni (New York Knicks) and Nate McMillan (Portland Trail Blazers). This coaching group led USA Basketball to a 36-1 record over the last three years.
“Coach K, and the assistant coaches were a perfect fit for the USA Senior National Team in 2006-2008 and I’m confident they’ll again be a great fit for 2010-2012,” James said. “We worked together for three summers and we all developed a great respect and chemistry that was very important in the successes we achieved.”
Krzyzewski led the 2008 Men’s National Team to a gold medal in Beijing with the cast of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, Dwight Howard, Jason Kidd, Chris Paul, Tayshaun Prince, Michael Redd and Deron Williams. The team posted a perfect 8-0 record in the Olympics, averaging 106 points per game and winning by an average margin of 27.9 points per contest.
“I think what I’ve learned from coaching some of the best players in the world really translates well to what we are doing at Duke,” Krzyzewski said. “When we can show tapes or tell stories of what guys do to be part of a team, to do dirty work, the extra conditioning and to say we have worked with these guys, that’s what they do. So when we ask you guys to do these things it is something we have already seen work at the highest level. I think it helps us immensely.”
Krzyzewski has made sure to stay in touch with the NBA stars from the gold medal team, never forgetting about the leadership that Kobe and LeBron brought to the National Team.
Now that he is back leading the U.S. squad his interactions will increase between him and former players, as well as, working on expanding a global push for Duke University.
“I think being our National coach and being on a global stage first of all just helps Duke in saying that our Duke coach is doing that,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s a visible stage; it’s not a hidden stage.”