LOS ANGELES—Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski was well known in the U.S. before he became Team USA's head coach in 2005 as a three-time NCAA champion, but since taking over the national team and winning two Olympic gold medals, the 69-year old's influence has spread across the globe.
“Without any doubt, Coach K is one of the best coaches in the world and has a great influence to all basketball people,” Chinese national team head coach Gong Luming said Sunday at the Staples Center after facing the United States in an exhibition game before the Olympics.
As Krzyzewski aims to become the first head coach to ever win three Olympic gold medals with the national team, his influence in bringing basketball to other parts of the world continues to grow. In addition to winning his first gold medal in Beijing in 2008, Krzyzewski took his Duke team to China for the Friendship Games in 2011.
“He’s not only well known in America, many, many people in China know him very well,” Luming said.
The NBA has made basketball the most popular sport in China, in large part because of the stardom of Shanghai, China, native, former Houston Rocket and 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Yao Ming. Although college basketball is not as popular yet, Krzyzewski's popularity among the NBA's stars that have played for Team USA have made him a global figure.
During the 2011 trip to China, Krzyzewski met with Yao, whom Team USA faced in its opening game in the 2008 Olympics.
"What a great sportsman for the world, and a great representative for his great country," Krzyzewski said after Sunday's game. "And if you remember that game that we played, I think may be the most watched game ever. What an event that was, and how well the Olympics, and basketball in particular, was hosted by the Chinese."
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.