After a driving layup by Chris Paul that all but sealed a victory with 51 seconds remaining in Team USA’s gold medal game against Spain Sunday, head coach Mike Krzyzewski gave a display of emotion that we don’t typically see from the stoic and legendary college coach.
He jumped up in celebration as Team USA took a 104-93 lead, on its way to claiming the gold medal with a 107-100 victory in London.
That moment will be frozen in time for many if Krzyzewski holds to his word and says he is stepping down as Team USA coach, an announcement he made to the Associated Press Saturday.
It has been a memorable basketball year for Coach K, after becoming Division I’s all-time wins leader and now taking the Americans to a gold medal.
He was tapped to become the head coach of the US National Team in 2005, one year after perhaps the lowest point in US Olympic basketball history when they took home a Bronze from the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
”He was the right guy at the right time,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo told the Associated Press. ”He’s been so important to me in everything we’ve done in building the infrastructure and philosophy and standards – all of it. His legacy goes beyond the record on the court. We’re 52-1 since this all began, and hopefully we’ll be 53-1 after tomorrow. That’s a legacy in itself.
”I really love him and respect him.”
Coach K took this 2012 team, depleted by injuries in the frontcourt, and made a collection of all-stars into a cohesive unit as they marched toward Sunday’s gold.
Of course, a great deal of credit goes to the players as well, including LeBron James and Kevin Durant, who at separate times carried Team USA. Durant had 30 points against Spain. James added 19.
Don’t think that Colangelo will let Krzyzewski go without some serious efforts to persuade him to stay, but if this is the last chance we have to see him coaching on the international stage, it is memorable, picturesque, and fitting for the man who helped return Team USA to the top.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_