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When Coach K Still Thought He Had A Shot At Kobe Bryant

But it was not meant to be -at least not at Duke

USA Men’s Practice
 BARCELONA, SPAIN - JULY 23: Kobe Bryant #10 and Mike Krzyzewski Head Coach of the US Men’s Senior National team are talking during practice at Palau Sant Jordi Arena on July 23, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. 
Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/NBAE via Getty Images

Duke (and for that matter UNC) fans will know that when the late Kobe Bryant graduated high school in 1996, he seriously considered playing for either Duke or UNC.

Keep in mind that in 1996, Duke was just one year past Mike Krzyzewski’s leave of absence following his back injury and the program was still recovering.

Coach K made it very clear that he would love to coach Bryant at Duke and sent this letter to one of his high school coaches: “Dear Mike, Nice win over Roman Catholic! You did a fine job with the kids. They play hard and well together. Mike, thanks for all your help. I am very appreciative. Kobe is truly special and I want to coach him! My Best Always, Mike.”

It didn’t work out of course: Bryant went straight to the NBA where he became a legend. At various times, he said he would have played at Duke. At others, he said it would have been UNC.

We’ll never know, but he ultimately did play for Coach K in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and was tremendous.