Two weeks before the national team opens its showcase leading up to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro against Argentina July 22, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski appeared on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" Friday morning.
Krzyzewski's former point guard, guest host Jay Williams—who helped Duke capture the 2001 NCAA championship and earned National Player of the Year honors during his three seasons in Durham—introduced him on the show. Krzyzewski joked that he would like to still have Williams on his team since the former Chicago Bull left the Blue Devils with one year of eligibility remaining.
Williams responded that Duke will have a pretty good team without him, saying the Blue Devils "have a chance at No. 6," referring to what would be Duke's sixth national championship if it captures the 2017 title.
"We don't look at it as No. 6, we look at it as No. 1 for the new guys," Krzyzewski said. "And for a few of those guys it would be their second national championship."
Williams' guest co-host for the show Friday, Ryen Russillo, apologized for years of Duke hate, which Krzyzewski said was largely the product of the Blue Devils' success.
"When you win a lot or get a lot of exposure, there's a certain amount of people," Krzyzewski said. "That's what makes sport, that they want you to lose. That's good. It's good to be hated, in that regard."
Krzyzewski then discussed the NBA, specifically Kevin Durant's decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors. Durant has played extensively for Krzyzewski on the national team, and Krzyzewski said the forward's 2010 FIBA World Championship performance was one of the best he has seen for USA Basketball.
He also said he thinks Durant is the best scorer in the world. With Stephen Curry and LeBron James electing to skip the Olympics, Durant will likely be a focal point of Team USA's offense in Rio with his versatility.
"He's a gem because no one loves to play more than this guy," Krzyzewski said of the four-time scoring champion. "He's okay with other people being good and you can put him anywhere."
The 69-year old head coach also discussed his mentality in coaching a team of stars and getting them to share the basketball, comparing the opportunity to what Golden State head coach Steve Kerr will face next season. The Warriors add Durant to a core with two-time reigning MVP Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green.
Krzyzewski said that as is the case with the national team, the most important thing for Golden State despite the outside noise and criticism will be winning the championship.
"If I'm that coach, I want to be able to say, 'Hell yes, we did win,'" Krzyzewski said.
The five-time national champion also noted that even with the pressure that comes with coaching Duke and the national team, he tries to make sure each team enjoys its journey with a player-friendly system.
A West Point graduate, Krzyzewski also discussed the importance of Team USA's connection with the U.S. military, the concept of selfless service and how USA Basketball is preparing for its stay in Rio with security and Zika virus concerns.
To conclude, he talked about the NBA's partnership with the national team and the contributions of USA Basketball Managing Director Jerry Colangelo. Colangelo has previously said he wants Krzyzewski to replace him after the 2020 Olympics.
Krzyzewski departed "Mike & Mike" by telling Russillo how good his partner on the show was during his time at Duke.
"The guy you're with was really damn good, as good in big games as anybody as I've ever coached," Krzyzewski said.
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