Mike Krzyzewski has now coached Team USA to two gold medals -- and has won four NCAA titles at Duke.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – He can beat you with Kobe Bryant – and he can beat you with Brian Zoubek. He can beat you when he's coaching the best players in the world – and when he isn't coaching the best players in college basketball.
His name is Mike Krzyzewski. Now that he has directed the U.S. men's Olympic basketball team to another gold medal in London, it's time to celebrate Coach K for what he absolutely is:
The best American coach in any team sport ever.
Better than John Wooden, who never coached a national team. Better than Phil Jackson, who never coached the college game. Better than Dean Smith, the guy who overshadowed Coach K when he started on Tobacco Road.
Better than Bear Bryant, a college guy. Better than Vince Lombardi, whose run at Green Bay was remarkable, but short. Better than Pat Summit, who deserves serious consideration. Better than anybody who sits atop your list.
Nobody has done a better job of proving he can win with pros or college guys – a pair of gold medals, four NCAA titles, 11 Final Fours and 927 college victories in a run that should eventually take him over 1,000.
You won't like hearing that. Coach K, who is 65, has won too much at Duke. His list of haters is long and relentlessly vocal. You bristle simply seeing him on the sidelines. I've heard you.
You haven't forgiven him for the Christian Laettner buzzer-beater against Kentucky 20 years ago. You don't like the way he let Laettner get away with stepping on Aminu Timberlake's chest. That wasn't his finest moment.
You think Duke gets all the calls and all of Dick Vitale's affection. You wonder why the NCAA let Duke skate after the nonsense that went on during the recruiting of Corey Maggette. You've heard that he once unloaded on reporters at the Duke student newspaper.
His connection to Bob Knight is irritating. You're unhappy that Anthony Davis didn't get more playing time in London. He's beaten your favorite team on too many recruits.
I'd better not forget this: If Coach K is such a remarkable coach, how do I explain Lehigh 75, Duke 70 in the second-round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament?
I explain it by saying every coach – Knight, Wooden, Smith – has a moment he'd like to bury. It happens – just as it happened in 1991 in Indianapolis when Krzyzewski and Duke upset a more talented UNLV team on the way to winning Coach K's first NCAA title.
But the wide-angle view of what Coach K has accomplished at Duke and with the USA National team shows he knows how to handle the pick-and-roll and how to handle monstrous egos.
Let's remember why Krzyzewski was recruited to coach the national team – because the Americans suffered several embarrassing losses in international competition. The rest of the world was producing and developing more players who could win on the global stage. Jerry Colangelo knew USA Basketball needed a guy who understood the psychology of team building. Enter Coach K.
Krzyzewski has changed that trend, changed it by coaching the U.S. team to a 62-1 record and two Olympic gold medals as the Team USA coach.
Yes, I know his roster included LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and other NBA all-stars in London. It also did not include Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin and others who were supposed to play.
It didn't matter. The guys on the team respected Krzyzewski and wanted to play for him. And play they did.
"It's been a great ride," James said. "I don't know if I'm going to be a part of the 2016 team. I know (Coach K) already said he's done. We've had a great ride. I'm happy to be on the same floor with such a great and legendary coach."