USA basketball: Coach K couldn't resist Rio, chance at 3rd gold

2013-07-23T00:00:00Z USA basketball: Coach K couldn't resist Rio, chance at 3rd goldThe Associated Press The Associated Press
July 23, 2013 12:00 am  • 

LAS VEGAS - Mike Krzyzewski thought he was done with USA Basketball. He said he was done, too.

After helping Team USA win two straight Olympic gold medals, there appeared little left for him to accomplish. After the team won in London last summer, Krzyzewski prepared to walk away.

It didn't take long for Jerry Colangelo to know that Krzyzewski wasn't as resolute in his stance as he made it seem. Just a couple of weeks after their triumph in London, the two reconvened in Springfield, Mass., for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. And that's when Colangelo, the managing director for USA Basketball, knew there was still a chance.

"He was having withdrawal already," Colangelo said. "He started talking about the future. No commitments, but it was there.

"My attitude was ... I'm going to give him all the time he needs and when the timing is right, we'll have that sit-down again. Usually when I sit down with him, there's a good result. And it happened again and it was a positive result."

Ten months after Colangelo first saw that gleam return to Krzyzewski's eye, and two months after the coach made his return official, the two are back to work at a four-day camp that began Monday, kicking off preparations for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

As Krzyzewski sat down in a chair outside a meeting room at the Wynn resort with a red polo and the USA logo on the left breast, he said he spent most of Duke's college season last year fully convinced he wouldn't be back for a run at a third gold.

"Throughout the year I did not think I'd be coaching (Team USA)," he said. "But ... after not just talking with Jerry, but my staff and my family, to be given that opportunity again, it's something I'm excited about and feel very honored."

When Krzyzewski leads the Americans in Rio in 2016, he'll join Henry Iba as the only coaches in U.S. history to coach in three Olympics. Together with Colangelo, Krzyzewski has changed the culture of USA Basketball and restored some sense of pride, professionalism and prestige to a brand that was tarnished after a bronze medal finish in Athens in 2004.

A big sign of the change? The simple fact they're holding a camp this week. Because the Americans won gold in London last summer, they don't have to participate in any qualifying tournaments this year for the 2014 World Cup in Madrid. There's nothing to play for this summer. Yet this is still the place to be.

"How Coach K does that is he just leads," said Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, who played for Krzyzewski at Duke and is one of the camp hopefuls. "Different things to motivate you, to get you going, to always be your best, not only as a player, but as a person."

Twenty-six of the best young NBA players and Creighton forward Doug McDermott and Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart are here for four days of workouts. Anthony Davis, who played sparingly last summer, is the only player with Olympic experience. Others like Damian Lillard, Irving, John Wall and Paul George are trying to make a good impression to be included on the World Cup team next summer.

No roster decisions will be made this week, and coaches are hoping younger NBA stars from London - Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love, among others - will decide to play in Spain next year. Krzyzewski also will get to know new assistants Tom Thibodeau and Monty Williams and teach the young players what's expected.

"(Krzyzewski) could've sat back and said, 'I won the two gold medals and I've done my thing,'" Colangelo said. "But he's a competitive guy. He has set himself apart from everyone already ... but he's still willing to put himself out there on the plank. And I love that."

Team USA camp roster / B5

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