Kobe Hearts Coach K.

The lovefest surrounding USA Basketball right now is something that could almost make you puke. Everyone is speaking well of Coach Mike Krzyzewski, the leader of this squad, when not leading the Blue Devil horde — and of course, Kobe Bryant is making some of the louder statement, not entirely surprising, given how the rumors swirled about Krzyzewski possibly coaching the Lakers when Phil Jackson first left. And they’re all talking about how Coach K. would do awesome in the NBA. Quoth Kobe:

“He can be so intense because he’s so passionate about the game, but at the same time he has a great sense of humor. I don’t think a lot of people know that about him.

“There’s no question in my mind that he would be a great NBA coach. . . . He has that passion about what he does and when you have that commitment to winning, you can’t help but be successful.”

Either the players are just being rah-rah about the coach or there’s a little bit of denial going on. Krzyzewski is a great college coach, no doubt, but his most effective strategies of recruiting — touting the Duke name in college basketball much like Notre Dame is bandied about by its football coaches — his system where he plugs in recruits and they play his game, and his authoritarian control over the program would all be gone.

I’m aware it’s perfectly cliche to write this by the point, but the motivations between the college and pro level are drastically different, and I’m in the crowd that doubts Krzyzewski’s ability to survive in the environment. There is a reason John Calipari and Rick Pitino are bandied about as cautionary tales. While your players may be perfectly supportive of you when the country’s team is not their primary commitment, when money gets involved, the rules change.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the renewal program with Coach K and Jerry Colangelo helming helped bring the U.S. team back to competing in a way fans are accustomed to. Just don’t believe that the success could cross over to the NBA. Krzyzewski works as a college and possibly as a national program coach because it’s his agenda; he’s in control. In the NBA, he’d be just another coach fighting to keep his job and dealing with the personalities and egos of professional players.

(Photo: Getty/Andrew D. Bernstein)


12 Responses

  1. […] Coach K = Jerry Seinfeld? [Signal To Noise] […]

  2. You made a valid point about the differences between college and NBA coaching, but you only had one example of a player lauding Coach K. Kobe is expected to speak well of him because they are friends/associates.

  3. Right, but reading the copy also notes Jason Kidd and LeBron James speaking well of him. Kobe’s the important one for the implications: he’s expected to speak well of him because he probably lobbied for him to take the Laker job a couple years ago. That hasn’t subsided, and he may be thinking after Phil again.

  4. I thought it was a great read, and I like your site.

  5. Coach K and Calipari are very similar except for the number of Championships K’s won and the amount of Final fours he’s been to.

  6. Team USA will do well because they have Kobe, the ultimate competitor!!! Coach K would be smart to stay in college, he has everything, why ruin a good thing? It would be interesting to see how he did in the NBA.


  7. “He can be so intense because he’s so passionate about the game, but at the same time he has a great sense of humor. I don’t think a lot of people know that about him…”

    …and if there is one thing Kobe knows it is “humor”.

  8. I think you underestimate Coach K a little. You’re definitely right coaching in college and the pros are whole different worlds, but Mike’s a smart guy. At Duke, he’s churned out pro basketball players and a lot of graduates. Guys who could have left early and made millions stayed because they liked playing for him. I think he could elicit the same attitudes at the pro level.

    Of course, it’s totally irrelevant since he’ll never leave Duke.

  9. […] Kobe Hearts Coach K. [image]The lovefest surrounding USA Basketball right now is something that could almost make you puke. Everyone is […] […]

  10. oh man nevermind. For some reason I thought I was gonna see Kobe Tai and Coach K in a little horizontal aerobics action. /shudder nice post on the actual subject though; maybe Kobe will ask to be traded to Duke

  11. K is not very good at x’s and o’s at all…duke runs a high-school type offense that spreads the floor and relies heavily on the high screen and roll and dribble penetration. They only play man-to-man defense, with the fundamental backdrop being that “the refs can’t/won’t call it every time”

    this is a guy who lost to uconn with probably the most stacked ncaa team ever because he wanted trajan langdon to “take em” off the dribble in the closing seconds. not a great coach, but he is very effective at creating a particular mental environment for his players…but grown men would never buy into his “fist” philosophy and lord of the flies nonsense.

  12. I don’t think the Team would have won with any other COACH ! Coach “K” gets the best out of what he has, and in this case he blended the best on their team into a unit. This is what Basketball is all about. USA, USA.

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