I was just finishing up writing my blog mocking LeBron for his cheesy ass yacht Snapchats and then I stumble across the Sports Illustrated interview with Coach K claiming LeBron is one of the funniest players he’s ever coached. I guess I’ll just go sit on a cucumber.
Coach Krzyzewski’s coaching tenure with LeBron has spanned over two Olympic Games–the 2004 Olympics in Athens, where the USA somewhat shamefully took home bronze, and the 2008 Beijing Games where the red, white, and blue took home gold.
In an interview with SI’s Alexander Wolff, Coach K reflected on his 12 years coaching USA basketball and some of the characters he’s met along the way.
One of the funniest is LeBron. A huge thing about getting our culture going was the relationship that he and Kobe had on the 2008 team. Kobe was the alpha dog of the league, the best player. In the NBA, generations are like three or four years apart, so you had the next tier, where the alpha dogs were Carmelo, Chris and LeBron. So those guys were going to look to see who Kobe was going to be. Kobe could not have been better. In private moments, where we’re on team trips or at a team function with no one else there, LeBron would mimic [Kobe in front of him], and Kobe would laugh.
Those things were great. I didn’t tell LeBron to do that. Jerry didn’t tell him. Part of their greatness was they knew they needed to do that. So I’m amazed. Usually I have to tell my players everything. Here these guys, they understood: it’s important for us to get along—that maybe this thing would be better if we did.
I can remember in ’92, it’s something Magic Johnson had too. One time we were going into practice and it’s dead. You know this is going to be a bad practice. All of a sudden he starts singing while we’re stretching. And all of a sudden guys are hitting [their shots], and all of a sudden we had a good practice.
I’ve seen great players not just perform great on the court, but instinctively perform great in the things that bond you so you can begreat on the court. That’s cool stuff. Where do you learn that? How lucky am I to be in these situations where these gifted guys show their gifts in other areas, not just the physical area?
The 69-year-old (lol) Krzyzewski also revealed how to get a bunch of multi-millionaires who are used to being the go-to guy on their respective teams to play selflessly. He achieved this by bringing in military service members to instill a sense of selfless service in the players.
The very first person to ever talk to our team was one of my former players [at West Point], Bob Brown. He was a colonel. He’s now a four-star general. He brought three wounded warriors, guys who served—Scottie Smiley, who is blind, and other guys who had different injuries—and in an emotional manner they talked to our team about selfless service. The key factor in that was that all these wounded warriors wanted to serve again. And my guys, Dwyane Wade and these guys, they’re crying. They’re not only hearing and seeing what it was; we’d found a way for them to feel. The military has helped us tremendously in helping our guys feel what it is to serve on a basketball court for our country, instead of on battlefields. And you don’t skip steps. For each team, we don’t say, We’ve already done that. So we’re in the process of doing it for our 2016 Olympic team, making sure that we allow them to feel what they’re doing.
Check out the full interview here. #Merica.