If you haven’t noticed somehow, the Ian O’Connor book about Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is getting a big push around the interwebs and not all of it is as stupid as the first article was.
Take this piece about Coach K taking over the Olympics team.
From a distance, it seemed like an easy thing and for Duke fans, who observe Coach K closer than most people, we understood that he took the job partly for patriotic reasons and, moreover, that he could do it.
What we may not have fully understood is how he had to adapt himself to NBA players. In college, as Elton Brand, Reggie Love and Jason Williams point out, he could rely on being the older alpha male who was willing to fight a much younger player (Brand said he would have won too).
But he realized quickly that he couldn’t simply intimidate NBA players, that he would have to gain their respect, and he worked hard to do that.
This article about the new book talks about how he won over the 2008 team, which laid the foundation for the next two Olympics. It focuses a lot on his relationship with Kobe Bryant, who bought in immediately, and LeBron James, who took a bit of convincing. Lots of stuff here you probably never thought too much about but which is extremely interesting. It’s clear that there were no guarantees in the Olympics. What happened happened because of hard work and collaboration.
Small irony: The late UNC coach Dean Smith pushed Krzyzewski as the new coach in 2008 where he would have to clean up the mess left by Smith’s former point guard Larry Brown in 2004.