<
>

Coach hopes 'how-to' book will help

4/21/2009 - Olympic Sports

NEW YORK -- Mike Krzyzewski still doesn't know if he will return to coach the U.S. Olympic team.

If not, he's left plenty of ideas for whoever replaces him.

Krzyzewski's new book, "The Gold Standard, Building a World-Class Team," details much of what he did as the first coach of the U.S. national team program, culminating in the Americans' victory over Spain to win the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics.

"In the military, you'd say you write an after action report, so the commander after you would know what it's like," Krzyzewski said Tuesday. "Well, the book serves as an example for what we did over a three-year period and the reasoning behind it. That's one of the reasons I wanted to do a book."

Krzyzewski wrote the book with his daughter, Jamie Spatola, and they signed it Tuesday at the NBA Store -- where all copies sold out. They decided to write the book before the 2007 Olympic qualifier, when Krzyzewski had already spent one summer with the team and knew it was a group people would want to learn more about.

"It's such a good story, but it's also a team that our country could cheer for," Krzyzewski said. "What team does our entire country cheer for? They don't cheer for one team. They cheer for their city, team or their state team and college. I thought during the Olympics, this team won the respect of its own, its own country. And going forward now, that's how we would like USA Basketball to be looked upon."

Krzyzewski still isn't sure if he'll remain the coach. The job is surely his if he wants it, but even though he was with USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo last week in Chicago, he said they didn't discuss the position that night.

"I just want to sit down with Jerry and everyone involved and figure out what's best," Krzyzewski said. "Because it shouldn't be about one player or one coach. It should be about how we feel it would be best as a country to go forward."

Since the Americans are automatically qualified into the 2010 world championships as Olympic champions, they have time -- which is a dominant theme of the book.

The Americans would just choose a team shortly before the start of international competitions before Colangelo was hired in 2005 following the Americans' bronze-medal finish at the 2004 Olympics. He hired Krzyzewski that fall, giving the coach the time to build a team that his predecessors didn't enjoy.

Krzyzewski writes of the various ways he developed relationships with some of basketball's biggest superstars. He recalled a visit to LeBron James in 2007 in Cleveland at an event with James' sponsors, and a phone call with the then-injured Dwyane Wade early the next year, when he told the Miami Heat guard he believed in him and knew he would make it back from his knee surgery.

Krzyzewski encouraged or even asked some players to speak at meetings, so they could hear multiple voices and some could assume leadership positions. And activities such as visits to U.S. military bases and a boat ride around the Statue of Liberty further strengthened the team's bond -- Krzyzewski called them friends.

"You want to get to know each other, and it's not about just liking," Krzyzewski said. "It's trusting, and the only way you can trust is by spending quality time with one another."

Those good times together make it difficult for Krzyzewski, who was also an assistant on the 1992 Dream Team, to decide whether to stay on. Maybe another stint wouldn't be as rewarding as this one was -- but after the experience he had, it's hard to rule out doing it again.

"It was such an honor. It was the best thing I've ever done -- or been a part of. It's not something I did, that I've been a part of," Krzyzewski said.

"But let's see. I'm a big USA Basketball guy, and I believe in our game and I believe we should be the leaders in our game. Not just how it's played, but how we structure it, how we teach it and share the knowledge."