NBA Interview: Coach K

Written by Paul Banks of NBC Chicago, the Washington Times, and the The Sports Bank.
Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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In his 29th season at Duke, Mike Krzyzewski was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame after being selected as National Coach of the Year 12 times.

Under his reign, the Blue Devils have won three NCAA championships (1991, 1992, 2001) and 10 Final Fours. He entered the 2008-09 season with a record of 803-267 l.750 winning pct. Duke has a 30-7 tourney record and 11 Atlantic Coast Conference tournament titles.Krzyzewski was named head coach of the USA Basketball Men's Senior National team, a position he held through the team's gold medal winning performance in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Paul M. Banks: Talk about the role education and academics plays in collegiate sports, especially at an institution like yours with a high academic reputation

Mike Krzyzeki: We're all educational institutions, so before we're a sports team, we're a college or university and it's the responsibility of everyone to make sure education is the central point of what we're doing, it's not celebrated in the press because there's no score.

PMB: What about graduation rates?

Coach K: Yeah, but even graduation rates aren't a true indication of education, the fact that you're able to educate anybody for even a short period of time is a step forward, hopefully it leads to graduation, it's one of the reasons I've stayed in the collegiate ranks because education is our thing, it's part of what you do and it's not just about winning and losing.

PMB: Can you tell me about the new organization, structure and culture of Team USA basketball that Executive Director Jerry Colangleo instilled in the program?

Coach K: I think what Jerry did, was first of all he volunteered , so Jerry's heart was pure and his sole intention was to make sure USA basketball would be good and he said we're going to do it the old-fashoned way, we're not just going to select a team, we're going to talk to each individual and tell them what we expect of them, to follow our standards and make a commitment.

And the players said, we can do that. And the common expression that was given to me, Jim, Mike D'antoni and all the coaches for this team, and it was "Coach I'll do whatever you want me to do." As the coaches behind me can attest, we'd be lucky to hear our own players say that, and we had Lebron James, Dwanye Wade, Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul, these guys are stars. And because of the soil that Jerry had us grown in they said "Coach, I'll do whatever you want me to do." And that's the kind of attitude you want going forward.

PMB: Can you talk about instilling values, leadership, preparing your players beyond the court and the classroom?

Coach K: To me athletics at every level, high school or college, it's like a testing of all the theories that you learn about in the classroom, you learn about success, failure, you learn about changing limits, you learn about courage, honesty, trust, values and sometimes you fail at those things, but sports provide a proving ground to do it while still under the university umbrella.

PMB: Have you checked out the Chicago 2016 plans?

Coach K: Actually, we saw the presentation while we were in Beijing and I was really proud of what's there. The city is already beautiful, but to put in all those venues in and for all the world to be here- if there are people on other planets, they will see the glow coming from Chicago during the time of the Olympics, its already beautiful, but it will glow. They'll be a buzz for the 8 years leading up to it and forever afterwards. I think we take it for granted in Chicago the cultures we have, it really is -more than other city in America- a world city

PMB: As a fellow Polish-American myself, I'm proud to bring up the fact that we have the largest population of Poles outside of Warsaw

Coach K: Whether you're Romanian, African-American, Greek, Italian it doesn't make a difference: Chinese, Japanese you see the celebration of all these cultures all the time.

PMB: And how about the United Center as an Olympic Venue, the house that Michael built with the statue of his airness right outside tell me about the prospect of a Gold Medal game being played in this venue...

Coach K: People from around the world of basketball would think it's such an honor, to play on the court that Michael Jordan played on, he's a world figure and the United Center is such a special place anyway.

PMB: On the National Association of Basketball Coaches' "Ticket to Reading Rewards Program"...

Coach K: Today's a huge day. We need days to celebrate so the movement keeps on moving, so the money and the awareness that we'll raise today will hopefully get us into 20 school districts next year and we'll grow more and more.

PMB: Chicago's 2016 Olympic movement...

Coach K: The olympic movement is about more than winning and losing, it's about sharing cultures, if you've seen or been into an Olympic village: during the opening ceremony, Jim and I were walking in with our team and the US delegation in the tunnel and all of sudden you walk out and there are over 90,000 people in the stands and the world is watching and you have all these athletes and coaches from our country, all of them yelling "U-S-A U-S-A!" Later, you go out there and all of a sudden you're a part of the world and you're watching all the delegations walk by and you share, and you're hugging and people talking, it's kind of the way the world should be. If you look at Chicago- the way it's going and the way it is right now, it's one of the reasons I think it's so appropriate to have it here.

Written by Paul Banks of NBC Chicago, the Washington Times, and the The Sports Bank.
Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
All other e-mail, including advertising and link proposals, send to:

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