The National Basketball Association (NBA) has appointed legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski as a special advisor for basketball operations, the league announced Wednesday. Here’s what you need to know:
- In this position, Krzyzewski, 76, will “advise the league office, NBA team executives and other leaders around the league on a range of issues related to the game,” the NBA said in a statement.
- During his 42-year coaching career at Duke, Krzyzewski received many opportunities to coach in the NBA but remained with the Blue Devils until his retirement after the 2021-22 season.
- He also coached the USA Men’s National Basketball Team from 2005 to 2016, and led Team USA to gold medals in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympics. Krzyzewski has been named USA Basketball National Coach of the Year, a record seven times.
- Krzyzewski is scheduled to attend a meeting of the NBA’s general managers next week in Chicago to begin the new advisory capacity with the league.
the athleteInstant Analysis:
Why this role makes sense for Krzyzewski
Because it allows him to scratch a basketball itch – something he alluded to when the athlete Talk to him in February—in a way that doesn’t interfere with or conflict with what his successor, John Scheer, is doing at Duke. He stressed during his transition away from coaching that Duke would be Scheyer’s program now, and that going into the weeds there at all would go against those wishes.
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However, for someone who has trained for over 45 years of their life to just walk away and have no connection to the sport, it is…difficult, if not impossible. Krzyzewski obviously attends some of Duke’s practices and maintains relationships with his former players—at college and various career levels—but it’s kind of like the difference between hitting a batter and being a regular in the lineup. Now, he knows he’s going to directly impact the game through meetings with owners, executives, and people at all levels of the NBA.
The other interesting thing to watch here is, does this predict something else for Krzyzewski’s future? In his later years at Duke, Krzyzewski became something of an unofficial voice of college basketball, someone who criticized the NCAA’s shortcomings and wanted to protect the integrity of the game. Does slipping into this role at the NBA level allow him to dip his toes in that water, so to speak, before attempting something similar at the college level? This is speculation on my part, but it makes sense given his stature and his interest in the game’s long-term status. – Signs
what are they saying
“This is a tremendous opportunity to deepen my connection with the NBA and participate in conversations about further strengthening the league and the game,” Krzyzewski said in a statement. “Even after my retirement from coaching, my passion for the sport has never been higher. This role will enable me to continue to engage with basketball at the highest level.”
“We are honored to have Coach K join the NBA family and share his vast experience and expertise with the league and our teams,” said Byron Spruell, NBA President of League Operations.
“As an outstanding coach and celebrity leader who cares deeply about the game of basketball, he is uniquely suited to lead discussions and provide insights into the present and future of the NBA.”
Krzyzewski, or “Coach K,” has a lifetime deal as a university ambassador at Duke and has kept his office at the Schwartz-Butters Sports Center adjacent to Cameron Indoor Stadium. His new NBA title is not expected to affect his role as Duke’s ambassador.
A Naismith Memorial Football Hall of Fame coach, Krzyzewski began his career in the Army (1975-80) before heading to Duke, where he built one of the most elite college basketball programs in the country. He won back-to-back national titles in 1991 and 1992, then added championships in 2001, 2010, and 2015.
He also led Duke to 15 ACC Championships and 13 Final Four. His 1,202 career wins are the most by any coach in college basketball history, men’s or women’s.
(Photo: Bob Donnan/USA Today)
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