After a disappointing showing in the 2004 Olympics, Mike Krzyzewski and Jerry Colangelo put together the Redeem Team and captured the gold medal in Beijing two years ago. However, when the United States won the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics, they did it with guys like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade among others. Heading into the World Championships this summer, the US was looking for gold despite not having one single member of the Redeem Team on the roster. It didn’t matter at all. The United States once again displayed their supremacy. Led by Kevin Durant, the U.S. swept away the competition, won the World Championship for the first time in 16 years, and brought the gold medal back to the United States.
Mike Krzyzewski joined The Dan Patrick Show to talk about the United States winning the World Championship, how much it meant to win the gold medal with this group of players, where Kevin Durant ranks in terms of the best players in the world, what makes Kevin Durant so good, and why he fired back at the Russian coach.
On how big this win was:
“This was really one of the big wins ever for USA Basketball for a number of reasons. One, just to win a World Championship which we haven’t done very often, haven’t done in 16 years. Two it gets us qualified for the Olympics. The World Champion has one of the spots guaranteed in the 2012 Olympics. It makes sure we don’t have to qualify next summer so we don’t have to play next summer. It also continues us in good stead, gold standard stead by winning the Olympics and now the World Championships. This year the under 17, under 18, and under 19 teams also won gold. It’s a fantastic year for USA Basketball. Now we’re as a total program, rated number one in the world. With this group, we had a young group and guys that had not done this before except for Lamar Odom and Chauncey Billups. To have a new group end up being champions to go along with the champions from the Olympics means that our pool of players for USA Basketball is deep. It’s deep not just in players, but it’s deep in players who have had championship experiences.”
On where Kevin Durant ranks against Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and some of the other best players in the game:
“He’s definitely at their level especially at this age. It’s not so much the maturation of being a leader. He’s not a vocal leader. He leads by example and his ability to handle pressure. I’ll tell ya I love Kevin Durant. In a month and a half, he was already really good, but he embraced the process to become a more physical player in the international game and really became an outstanding defender.”
On whether or not Durant has passed LeBron:
“It’s not a horse race. I just think he’s in that same mold.”
On what makes Kevin Durant so good:
“He scores the ball as well as anybody in the world right now. (Host: Even Kobe?) Oh yeah. Because he’s almost seven feet tall. We were a really good basketball team, with great guys and played very, very good defensively, but sometimes offensively when you’re exerting that amount of effort, it hurts you on that offensive end because you’re doing so much defensively. Kevin came through for us in the last two games and got 38 points and 28 points and all the other guys are great too, but I’m not sure they could do it any better or as good as Kevin did in that situation. He’s humble, he’s pure, and he listens. There’s no hidden agenda. (Host: How come you didn’t get him at Duke?) It’s a mistake on his part. I told him. I mean everybody would want him, but he is the real deal and now he has exploded on the global stage. He’s one of the top five players in the whole world right now.”