That a basketball player finds some sort of guiding figure in Mike Krzyzewski should be no surprise. With a collection of national titles and Olympic medals, Coach K is about as credible a source of counsel as it gets.
In Coach K, James sees an opportunity to benefit from a trade-off. Before he decided to opt for the NBA, LeBron also claimed the option to play for Ohio State.
When James decided to go pro, he unwillingly thrust himself into a world where “no” was going to be a rarity. James has been under the wing of good coaching for most of his career to this point. Make no mistake though, the 6’8″ prodigy was never under anybody’s wing. Brown was a defensive tactician who had little choice but to allow LeBron to take the controls. Eric Spoelstra is similar: a solid basketball mind forced often to take a backseat to star-power.
This is where coach K is different. As a college coach, Krzyzewski has very rarely had to stroke an ego or hold back criticism of a Duke player. In the NBA, that sensitive approach is part of a head coach’s job description. Coach K is one of a few coaches, because he’s outside of the NBA ego-stroking-machine, that has been able to push the NBA’s very best players.
In a game against Tunisia in this summer’s Olympic games, team USA’s starting 5 (James, Paul, Durant, Bryant, and Chandler) struggled through the first half. The lead was “only” 13. To start the second half, Krzyzewski sat down his starters and put out 5 bench players. The lead was convincing enough, but the point was made.
That is where coach K provides rare perspective for LeBron James: his willingness to make his point, unabashed and unreserved.
“We have a great relationship,” James said. “We’ve been together since ’05, and our relationship has grown every year. I’ve grown from a young man into a man into a leader of that team. He’s helped me develop that. I give a lot of credit to him.”–Via the Miami Herald.
“You know what? LeBron could have played at Duke,” Battier said. “There are a lot of All-Stars who couldn’t have played at Duke…You have to be mentally tough. You have to know the game — you can’t be some idiot out there, some dummy running around. You have to play for the team and be selfless. Those are all of LeBron James’ qualities.”
Mohamed Abdihakim is a journalism student at Florida Atlantic University. He is a Phoenix Suns fan, who is not prepared for the possibility of Nash winning a title in a Lakers jersey. Mohamed is also a contributor at “Les Snobs”. Interests include International basketball, Mad Men, and blues music. Nearly all stats are credited to Hoopdata or Basketball-Reference.
Twitter handle: @Abdi_hakim