Coach Mike Krzyzewski recently visited with ESPN’s Mike & Mike Show and talked about 21-year-old phenom Kevin Durant and
the significance of winning a world championship.
Krzyzewski says winning a gold medal at the FIBA World Championships is a greater accomplishment than winning Olympic gold simply because of the competition. “It’s actually bigger because it’s worldwide and there are 24 countries instead of 12,” explained the Duke University head coach, who now holds the distinction of being the first coach in USA Basketball history to win gold at the FIBA Worlds (2010) and the Olympics (2008).
As for the star player of the 2010 World Championship team who carried the United States to an undefeated mark in Turkey, Coach K had nothing but high praise for the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar.
“I’m not sure a U.S. player in the last quarter century maybe performed better under pressure,” Krzyzewski said. “Usually you have two, three, four scorers that you depend on. For us, he was the guy that we depended on. For him to come up with almost 70 points in the final two games, what a magnificent performance from a great kid who is pure. And he’s really humble.
“He’s as good as anybody in the world right now as a basketball player.”
Durant broke Carmelo Anthony’s single-game scoring record set in 2006 with 38 points against Lithuania in the semifinals. Durant also established a new American record for most points for an entire tournament. His 205 points shattered Luther Burden’s mark of 182, which stood for 36 years.
Coack K firmly believes that the United States can remain the dominant team in FIBA play as long as defense is the focus.
“We are the most athletic team, and if we use that and our depth then we have an advantage,” he said. “The defense has got to be the calling card. Nobody in the world can play the defense that we can play if we put our minds to it. [Other countries] can shoot as well and they can run offense as well, but they can’t play defense as well.”