Mike Krzyzewski is ready to walk away from the sidelines.
Team USA’s sidelines, that is.
The 68-year-old guided Team USA to gold medals in 2008 (Beijing) and 2012 (London), and Mike Krzyzewski still plans to man the helm through 2016 in Rio. But, as he told ESPN.com’s Andy Katz, he’s done after that:
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told ESPN that the 2016 Olympics will be his last coaching the United States men’s basketball national team, and that a succession plan to replace him will be announced in the coming year before the Games in Rio de Janeiro next summer.
“It is. It definitely is,” Mike Krzyzewski told ESPN about this being his last stint as head coach with USA Basketball. “I think it’s time to move ahead. During the next season there will be a number of decisions made about the future of USA Basketball with Rio [the roster] and coaching.
“There has to be a succession … a planned succession with really good people so we can keep the continuity of the program going.”
For what it’s worth, Coach K seemed to intimate that he would still be around the process in some capacity:
“Hopefully we can finish things up well with Rio and I would move onto something else with USA Basketball,” Krzyzewski said. “But I think we’re ready as an organization to do that, and I’m excited about the future because [of] what we’ve done over the last 10 years.”
Coach K is the face of the reinvention of Team USA basketball. So while it’s tough to call this a blow, because of how much superstar talent and, more importantly, interest there is from the NBA, his inevitable departure is still one of note.
More to the point, it sort of makes you realize how long Coach K has been around—not just Team USA, but basketball in general. He’s been coaching at Duke since 1980, a tenure that has survived many, many (many) NBA rumors, and he spent four seasons steering the Army roundball crew before that. With just about four decades of coaching experience to his name, his departure from Team USA is a secondary storyline to the bigger issue: When will he leave Duke, the program he has helped turn into a recurrent powerhouse?
Perhaps it won’t be anytime soon. Again, he still plans on being involved with Team USA in some capacity, suggesting he still has a coaching itch to scratch. It helps, too, that we’re past the point of him abandoning Duke for the appeal of an NBA job. That’s just not going to happen at this point. He has nothing to prove, especially after what he’s done with and for Team USA.
Still, it makes you think, and wonder, if Coach K’s days as a sideline fixture are nearing conclusion.