There is no great team without a great coach. You can have all the talent in the world, but without the right person at the top to handle that talent, put them into a position to succeed, and play as a team, there is no chance for glory. In that regard, there’s no greater challenge than coaching Team USA. It takes a special kind of personality to make that work. Mike Krzyzewski, better known as Coach K, is that kind of coach.
The key to being a Team USA coach is a long-term commitment to establishing a culture and respect for the organization. Krzyzewski was a perfect choice, as the loyalty he showed to Duke made him very desirable for the coaching job.
From the outside, Coach K seems like a very calm and profound coach who is a great gentleman, as seen in how he carries himself and talks. But the thing folks and the players from the 2008 USA Team didn’t know was that Coach K, just like every coach in the world, has that wild and tough side in him.
In the first meeting with the 2008 Team, Krzyzewski would tap into his inner-city Chicago upbringing and set the tone. It shocked the players, as they instantly dropped their guard. Coach K shared the move that got him instant respect.
“They don’t expect me to come in and say motherf***er. And when you’re talking and saying come on, you motherf***er we gotta get this gold medal. All of a sudden, I wasn’t this guy from Duke and West Point. I was more the guy from the inner-city of Chicago.”Mike Krzyzewski, “The Dream Team Tapes: Kobe, LeBron & The Redeem Team” from Diversion Podcasts
Jason Kidd, who was one of the veteran leaders on the team, was also in disbelief as he shared his reaction. That one moment changed the entire outlook for the team.
“First meeting, we got to hear coach K cuss, and I couldn’t believe it! Like this is the same guy that’s on TV?? I think he set the whole tone, the whole mood relaxed, and everyone wasn’t on edge….When he first cussed, I couldn’t believe it!”Jason Kidd, “The Dream Team Tapes: Kobe, LeBron & The Redeem Team” from Diversion Podcasts
It would make the player relax and see that this was going to be one fun experience. The method worked wonders as they rolled to the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics, with all of the members of that team remembering that time very fondly. It just goes to show how a coach can impact a team, no matter how many great players he has at his disposal.