LAS VEGAS – On the same day Mike Krzyzewski officially announced he will guide the U.S. national team in the 2012 Olympics, he made one other firm commitment: He’s not leaving Duke to coach in the NBA. Not now. Not ever.
“No chance,” Krzyzewski said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports.
Krzyzewski came close to leaving the Blue Devils to coach Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics in 1990. The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly offered a five-year, $40 million dollar deal after losing in the 2004 NBA Finals, but Krzyzewski declined. When reports recently surfaced about the possibility of him succeeding Lakers coach Phil Jackson, Krzyzewski told media in North Carolina earlier this month he had no interest in the job. On Tuesday, he made his point clear about any NBA position.
“When I coach my last game,” he said, “it will be at Duke or at USA Basketball.”
Krzyzewski’s experience with USA Basketball has already given him the opportunity to coach the NBA’s elite. Last summer, he helped guide Kobe Bryant(notes), LeBron James(notes), Dwyane Wade(notes) and the rest of the United State’s star-filled roster to the Olympic gold medal.
“People see this as the coaching ladder where you coach in high school and you coach in college and then you coach in the NBA, and it’s not,” said Krzyzewski’s wife, Mickie. “It’s not a ladder. The NBA is a whole different thing. This doesn’t mean he’s missing something on his resume.
“Once you coached the men that he has coached the last three years, where do you go from there?”
Evidently, you go back to coaching them. Krzyzewski has committed to leading the U.S. team through the 2012 Olympics, a significant obligation given that he has also dedicated himself to returning Duke to the Final Four. Since the Olympics, Krzyzewski has tried to stay in touch with the players from the gold medal-winning team.
“I call and leave a message,” he said. “I want them to hear my voice. Sometimes when they get back it’s a text, but that’s OK.”
Krzyzewski talked to Bryant before Game 3 of the NBA Finals, but their conversation didn’t touch on the possibility of him succeeding Jackson. “I don’t know how that came out,” he said. “I didn’t want [Jackson] to feel like, ‘What is he doing?’ That’s one of those things that comes out on the Internet and all the sudden you’re apologizing for something you never thought about or did anything about.”
Instead, Krzyzewski plans to celebrate his 30th season at Duke. He also plans to stay for a while.
Said USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo: “I don’t see him leaving now.”
- Mike Krzyzewski