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Wojnarowski Rips K

No one was complaining when the U.S. basketball program was flat on its back and no one wanted the job.

Mike Krzyzewski celebrates FIBA gold with former Duke players Kyrie Irving and Mason Plumlee
Mike Krzyzewski celebrates FIBA gold with former Duke players Kyrie Irving and Mason Plumlee
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

We were going to link to this article this morning and let it go at that, then we came across this Adrian Wojnarowski slam of Coach K which seems really unfair.

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The first article provides some context and explanation for what Wojnarowski sees as simply  a promotional vehicle for Mike Krzyzewski.

Let's just make a few points here.

First, despite Wojnarowksi's and Mark Cuban's opinion, the NBA and its players are getting a lot out of FIBA play.

For one, it's become a sort of finishing school for a lot of players. The latest guys to kick their play and profile up a significant notch: Kenneth Faried, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins. They join a growing group highlighted by LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kevin Love who have returned to the NBA as better players.

And consider how Kobe Bryant, an enormously popular player in China, used the Beijing games to boost his profile and portfolio.

Paul George's injury was obviously sobering, but so was Shaun Livingston's. It can happen anywhere. Larry Bird permanently bent the index finger on his right hand playing softball. Bill Walton broke a foot on an exercise bike. Things happen. You can't bubble wrap players. In order to reach their potential, they have to do more than just train. The national team provides great chances to do just that.

Secondly, despite protestations, the NBA profits from the association with FIBA if only by getting better players from abroad. It's more than that, though. Look at how basketball has evolved across Europe. Even Great Britain has some NBA players, and basketball has always been an afterthought there. Today, the NBA rates coverage in the UK press and across Europe. How do you price that?

The idea that somehow Coach K is just using the entire experience to showcase himself is contradicted first of all by his remarkable success with the U.S. teams he's coached. If it was an all-about-me experience, the teams wouldn't have won the way they have. Who would care?

Look, why not go to West Point? It crystallizes things Krzyzewski wants to get across about sacrificing and being part of something bigger than yourself. One story we read talked about the players on this team realizing that a lot of the guys who died in military service recently were younger than them. How do you teach a lesson like that without showing it?

Leave all that aside, though, and focus on the results: the U.S. is redefining basketball globally, even while the NBA players are being coached (and really appreciating it we might add) in ways that push them beyond their normal boundaries and they improve.

Watch this coming season, and if the past is any guide, you'll see big improvements from Faried, Cousins, Irving, Thompson and others.

For all the carping, despite the injury George suffered, the NBA is benefiting on and off the court.

Wojnarowski's article is a collection of cheap shots (including one aimed at Danny Ferry and one at Adam Silver) which is really too bad. This team did something remarkable in Spain. It should be the focus and it should be celebrated.


Turns out Wojnarowski hasn't always thought this way.