LAS VEGAS —
“Throughout the year I did not think I would be coaching (Team USA),” Krzyzewski told The Associated Press before the camp kicked off. “I just felt that that wasn’t going to happen. But then after discussions, not just talking with Jerry, but my staff and my family, to be given that opportunity again, it’s something I’m really excited about and feel very honored and privileged to have that opportunity.”
When Krzyzewski leads the Americans at the Rio Olympics in 2016, he’ll join Henry Iba as the only coaches in U.S. history to coach in three Olympics. Together with Colangelo, Krzyzewski has changed the culture of USA Basketball and restored some sense of pride, professionalism and prestige to a brand that was tarnished after a bronze medal finish in Athens in 2004.
A big sign of the change? The simple fact that they’re even holding a camp this week. Because the Americans won gold in London last summer, they do not have to participate in any qualifying tournaments this summer for the 2014 World Cup in Madrid.
Quite literally, there is nothing to play for this summer. And yet this is still the place to be.
“How Coach K does that is he just leads,” said Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, who played for Krzyzewski at Duke and is one of the hopefuls at the camp this week. “Different things to motivate you, to get you going, to always be your best, not only as a player, but as a person. That’s what true leaders do.”
Twenty-eight of the best young players in the country are here for four days of workouts that essentially mark the kickoff of 2016 preparations. Anthony Davis, who played sparingly last summer, is the only player with Olympic experience.
Others like Damian Lillard, Irving, John Wall and Paul George have come to try to make a good impression in hopes of being included on the World Cup team next summer.