“I never thought of leaving Duke for another university. On the other hand, I had studied NBA offers very seriously. The first in 1990 to coach Boston. Another in 1994 from the Blazers. And finally, that of the Lakers in 2004. They had been really good with me. But I couldn’t give up everything I did and gave to Duke ”.
In forty years of coaching at Duke, Mike Krzyzewski would have had at least five serious proposals from NBA franchises. But “Coach K” finally never found the “right time” to leave Durham, where he should end his coaching career when he turned 73 two months ago and he esteemed himself. already “Too old for new challenges” almost ten years ago.
The position of coach of Team USA, from 2005 to 2011, was his only infidelity to the “Blue Devils”, and allowed him to coach the greatest as he could have done in the NBA.
“Because I had the chance to coach these great players, I never looked back. And I loved training at Duke, it was a perfect double hat for me ”, recently declared the coach who has won the most in college championship history.
One of the biggest providers of talent in the NBA has returned to the various appeals of the foot from the NBA, starting with the Celtics, who expressed their interest at the end of the 1989-1990 season, so that “Coach K” had just taken Duke to the “Final Four” of the college championship for the third time in a row.
On its way, Duke will thus gain two national titles in 1991 and 1992, the first two of Mike Krzyzewski. It was therefore not a good time to leave.
40-year-old spectator of NCAA change
After another test in 1994 from Portland, it was in 2004 that “Coach K” was closest to coaching the NBA, after the failure of the Payton-Bryant-Malone-O’Neal quartet and the departure of Phil Jackson.
The Californian franchise had proposed a deal at 40 million dollars over five years and Kobe Bryant had invested a lot to bring it in, in vain, Mike Krzyzewski finally leaving the post to Rudy Tomjanovich. At the departure of the latter from mid-season, the iconic strategist of Duke could have been there again, until Phil Jackson returned to service.
“With the Lakers, I was close, but a few months later, Jerry Colangelo offered me the chance to be coach of the American selection”, continues Mike Krzyzewski who then declined two new proposals from the Nets in 2010 for the start of the Mikhail Prokhorov era, with a salary estimated at between 12 and 15 million per season, then Wolves in 2011.
While he never made the NBA a goal, “Coach K” thinks the situation could have been different today, not least because the NCAA has changed, with students entering the NBA more and more. faster, like Zion Williamson who only stayed one season at Duke.
An upheaval compared to previous generations, when a player completed at least four years of university studies before appearing for the Draft. In the current context, he might have let himself be tempted.
“If I was a college coach who had the same level of success that I had in my late 40s and early 50s, I think I probably would have become an NBA coach., ”He launched. ” University has become a crazy world. You can’t develop relationships like you could in the past ”.