When Mike Krzyzewski retired, a lot of people thought that he wouldn’t be able to do it, that his desire to coach would get him to pull a Tom Brady.
It never seemed likely to us. First, when he discussed it publicly, he said he had had long talks with wife Mickie and they had agreed that it was the right time. We don’t know the K’s personally, but you don’t have to to know that her personality is as strong as is his. We’re not saying she told him what to do or anything, but if they planned it together, it was going to happen.
Secondly, we heard him interviewed on Jason Williams’ podcast and he talked about being able to do things he had never done before, simple things. Like going to a grandchild’s recital and not having his mind race about his team. Like just slowing down and not rushing around trying to do everything he had to do before.
He sounded like a man who was very content. We didn’t expect him to change his mind but those comments sort of cemented that for us.
So while a lot of people might be surprised that he has stayed away from practice, successor Jon Scheyer is not. He told ESPN this: “I have to go and seek him out. He’s wanted to give me so much space, probably to a fault, because he understands who he is. Transitions are tough for everybody. But me and him are locked in sync. I’m going to follow my instincts, but I’m also going to bounce stuff off of him. ... He’s been to, maybe, one workout in the summer. And by the way, he’s welcome to any of them. And I want him around, but he’s very overly respectful and great about it.”
This reminds us of whoever it was who said that Coach K pushed Scheyer over Tommy Amaker because Scheyer was younger and easier to control. That never made sense. You can almost hear Coach K ripping that apart: “how would it make sense for me to control him? Didn’t you listen to the plant-in-the-pot metaphor? All that’s gong to do is to try to force him to be me and nobody can be someone else. Jon is a great coach but he’ll never survive if he’s trying to be someone other than himself. He needs to pursue excellence as Jon Scheyer, not Mike Krzyzewski. Which he will find is more than good enough.”