Mike Krzyzewski said London was going to be the last time.
Well, maybe not.
There’s still a chance Krzyzewski will return for a third stint as U.S. Olympic men’s basketball coach, two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
Krzyzewski said he was through with the job after leading the Americans to a second straight gold medal in London.
Yet the Americans haven’t hired another coach, even after USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said in London his plan was to have a successor in place around the new year.
Perhaps he won’t need to.
The 65-year-old Krzyzewski has long been committed to USA Basketball, having been on the staff of 12 U.S. teams since 1979. He said last year he thought this was ”the last time,” though he said he would remain close to Colangelo and the program even if he no longer wanted to coach.
USA Basketball said there is no timetable for a new hire, though ESPN.com reported Wednesday that the deadline had now been pushed back to after the college season to allow Krzyzewski more time to decide.
One of the people told The Associated Press that though Krzyzewski gave no indication in London he would return, there were since ”rumblings” that he was open to it. Another said the delay was creating speculation that Coach K would be back.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity because Krzyzewski is focused on Duke’s season.
Colangelo hired Krzyzewski in 2005 after the Americans managed only a bronze medal in 2004 in Athens, after an embarrassing sixth-place finish in the 2002 world basketball championship. After settling for another bronze in the 2006 worlds in Japan, the Americans have not lost again.
The Americans had used only NBA coaches since professionals were allowed to be used starting with the 1992 Barcelona Games, but the Hall of Fame Duke coach proved a perfect fit when Colangelo went back to the college route.
The players who won gold in 2008 committed to return shortly after the Beijing Games, and Colangelo secured Krzyzewski’s commitment after they shared a bottle of wine and a pizza in the spring of 2009.
Colangelo has not spoken to anyone else about the job. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo is considered the top candidate if the Americans stick with a college coach, with Boston’s Doc Rivers, Philadelphia’s Doug Collins and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich the leading choices if they return to the pro ranks.
The Americans have time, since they automatically qualified for the 2014 World Cup of Basketball by winning the Olympic title. Should they win that, they would be entered into the field for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero.