Mike Krzyzewski got a well-deserved victory shower after the United States held off Spain 107-100 in the men’s basketball gold-medal game.
Instead of a Gatorade bath, Krzyzewski got doused with water courtesy of LeBron James. Krzyzewski announced that the 2012 London Olympics would be his last game coaching USA Basketball. He’ll only remain as adviser in the program, but his head coaching days for Team USA are over.
When asked if he was sure he was done, Krzyzewski said “yes” this was his last game as USA coach.
Krzyzewski, who has led Duke to four NCAA championships, took over the U.S. team in 2005. In the past seven years, he has restored the powerful American program, which was in disarray following a third-place finish at the 2004 Athens Games. However, led by Krzyzewski, the U.S. got redemption and a gold medal four years ago in China, won the world championships in 2010 and can win gold again by beating Spain.
Although he won’t take credit, Krzyzewski’s impact on the U.S. program has been immense.
“It goes beyond what has happened on the floor,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo told The Associated Press.
“He’s been so important to me in everything we’ve done in building the infrastructure and philosophy and standards — all of it,” Colangelo said. “His legacy goes beyond the record on the court.”
USA Basketball is 62-1 (including exhibition games) under Krzyzewski and his staff that includes Jim Boeheim, Mike D’Antoni and Nate McMillan.
But beyond the wins and statistical records, the biggest thing Coach K brought to the USA program is stability and consistency. He jokes about his lone blemish — a loss to Greece in the 2006 World Championships — and instead of sinking his head in a tub and hiding from the criticism, Coach K admitted mistakes made against Greece and has used that game as motivation in Beijing (Olympics), Turkey (FIBA Worlds), and London (Olympics.)
He ran the same offense and defense concepts since taking over in 2005, and he was able to check all the egos at the door and found a way to keep everyone on the same page without ruining reputations. That alone is an incredible accomplishment considering Krzyzewski has zero NBA experience and he’s dealing with grown men instead of college kids, and multimillionaires instead of students on athletic scholarships.
“Coach K is more about relationships than X’s and O’s,” said Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins, whose son, Chris, is one of the assistant coaches at Duke.
The 2012 U.S. Olympic team has two core groups: Five players from the Beijing Olympics (LeBron, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, Chris Paul) and five players from the world championships in Turkey (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love, Andre Iguodala). The last two roster spots went newcomers James Harden and Anthony Davis.
Coach K was able to take the Turkey team and incorporate it with the Beijing team and mold it into one super group. He pulled it off because the players trusted him and they formed a close relationship with him.
Krzyzewski and Henry Iba (1964, 1968) are the only U.S. coaches to lead the Americans to gold medals in consecutive Olympics. In seven years as head coach of the USA Basketball program, Coach K has returned USA back to where it belongs — No. 1 in the basketball world.