It’s easy for basketball fans to lose sight of it as the NBA playoffs get underway, but the 2012 Summer Olympics are less than three months away. This year, Mike Krzyzewski and his coaching staff will have their work cut out for them. Thanks to the lockout, there’ll be less time to prepare than in years past, and a slew of injuries means Team USA will inevitably be shorthanded in London.
Mike Krzyzewski joined The Gridlock on ESPN Radio Las Vegas to speak more broadly about his experience coaching Team USA. He opened up about how he looks to use egos to his advantage rather than squash them, and spoke about why he doesn’t consider the final roster decision to be a cut down.
On his experience as the coach of the United States men’s national basketball team:
“It’s been the best thing that’s happened to me in my career, and I’ve had a lot of unbelievable things happen in my career. But to be the head coach of the United States team is the ultimate honor. And then, the success we’ve had in the last two competitions, with the Olympics and the World Championship, were two of the great events that could ever happen. We’re hoping to do that again in London, but the competition will be very tough.”
On how he’s controlled the egos on the team in years past:
“We don’t subscribe to the theory about leaving their egos at the door. We want them to bring their egos inside the room — we just don’t want them to play for Laker ego, Heat ego. We want those egos. We want them to be who they are, wearing the USA jersey. And they’ve done that, because they know they’re part of something bigger than them. Sometimes even on their own teams, they are the team or they’re the franchise player or the face of the organization, and when they’re with the US team, no one is bigger than the US. And so they like being a part of that and they also like playing with other outstanding talents. Kobe (Bryant) enjoys playing with LeBron (James) and Dwyane (Wade), and to have Kevin Durant in there, and all of a sudden you have Chris Paul and Deron Williams and these guys being point guards. And it brings out new things for them. To me it’s been a great experience for everybody involved.”
On why he doesn’t technically feel as though he has to cut players in the program:
“Well you don’t let anybody go. They all are part of our pool, and guys who have been on our select team have been in the pool. Our guys like Kevin Durant, (Derrick) Rose, (Kevin) Love, (Russell) Westbrook. Part of it is just it may not be your turn yet. And that’s what it means about being in a program. We have a program, so you’re constantly training new guys to take the place of others. So we never look at this as like a cut. There are 12 guys that we have to select — two of the guys that we don’t select might be starters on our World Championship team in ’14. And that’s the atmosphere that we want to do this with.”