ACC Basketball: Coach K says he isn’t going to Lakers
By Joedy McCreary
DURHAM ó Mike Krzyzewski made it clear: He’s not ever going to coach the Los Angeles Lakers.
During his annual summer meeting with reporters Tuesday, one of the first topics covered by the Duke coach was that simmering buzz that had him leaving the Blue Devils for the Lakers if Phil Jackson retires.
“I’m not going to the Lakers. They have one of the great coaches in the game,” Krzyzewski said. “I don’t know where that rumor started, but there has been nothing done like that, and I’m not leaving Duke. Whatever you hear about anything like that, I will never leave Duke until I leave coaching.”
Recent speculative media reports fueled the latest round of Coach K-to-the-Lakers chatter. Five years ago, Krzyzewski was courted by the glitziest franchise in the NBA before he ultimately turned down a reported $40 million offer and stayed at Duke.
Indeed, after three decades in Durham, Krzyzewski sounds like a coach who’s planning to stick around for quite a while longer.
“Since the Laker thing (in 2004), to hear another rumor like that, not that it’s so bad, but I’d rather not go there at all,” Krzyzewski said. “I don’t want my Duke team ó not necessarily my basketball team, but my Duke team, the community ó to feel like you’re looking at other things. I’m getting ready to start my 30th year at Duke, and I don’t see the finish line yet. I know the finish line will be there sometime, but it’s not in my vision right now.”
Instead, Krzyzewski’s top priorities this summer include coaxing along a Blue Devils team that returns only two scholarship guards and weighing whether or not to sign on for another stint as coach of the U.S. men’s basketball team.
Krzyzewski, who guided the Americans to the gold medal last summer at the Beijing Games, said the coach for the 2012 Olympics will be announced July 21 in Las Vegas but didn’t hint which way he might be leaning.
“I’ve thought about it since then, a lot, and discussed it with a lot of people. If I do it again, it’s not going to be the same experience, which is good, because in order to have that, you couldn’t recreate that experience,” Krzyzewski said. “So what would the new experience be like? Whether you’re a player or a coach, it’s going to be different, and each of the guys who are making decisions as far as if they’re going to play have to look at it that way. The great thing about it is, there’s a camaraderie there, and it’s been a good thing.”
Krzyzewski also would seem to have several concerns about his Duke team after the losses of swingman Gerald Henderson, who left early for the NBA, and high-energy guard Elliot Williams, who announced he would transfer to his hometown school, Memphis, because of an illness in his family.