Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski reveals to Alex Rodriguez what it takes to be a Blue Devil

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Alex Rodriguez sits down with Duke's legendary head basketball Mike Krzyzewski to discuss what it takes to be a Blue Devil.

[MUSIC PLAYING] - Coach, I'm going to take you back to-- I was 16 years old, and playing for the US Olympic team representing the US, and we're in San Antonio.

- Right.

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: And I walk in the lobby in the hotel and I see Coach K. And I said, oh my god. That's Coach K. He's a legend. I loved Duke. I remember me telling you about me. You were little familiar with me.

- Yes, I was.

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: But you were so kind. And all I can think about is boy, I wish I played basketball and I wish I could go play at Duke for Coach K.

- Well, you know what? I did know about you because, you know, you were a young [INAUDIBLE] and in sport, you know about those things. But the thing I was impressed with you about was your face and you had a-- your eyes boomed. You know, like, you-- you were full of life. That's why we became good friends.

- And when you think about going into these young men's lives, and you're talking to parents, and you've been one of the greatest recruiters in the history of NCAA, what are the type of characteristics you're looking for? Not only to play on the field but people you want to bring in to your community at Duke?

- Yeah. Well, we look for three things and they're all equal. One, they have to be talented.


- You can't hear them now. Going to come into your living room. But you have to be good academically because Duke is a good academic school. Really, one of the best in the world. And the third thing, it's-- it's-- it's the same as the other two and it's a separators character. You know, are they good guys? And how do you see if they're good guys? We're not going to teach them everything but if they can come from that type of an environment then we have a chance to add to that.

- And what is the one thing that you're looking at me to do or not to do that's going to cue you on whether you want me or not?

- Give me you. Give me what you want. Why would you want Duke?

- Coach, I've--I've watched you all the time. I love the student body. I love the school. I love the education. I think I can be very helpful to your team. I'll be very nervous.

- Yeah. Well, you know what? That's all cool and those are all the things. You know the thing I've admired about you, I came to your practice and you were the hardest worker. You know how hard you're working right now? You're going to have to work a lot harder. Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to allow me to make you work harder?

- Yes, sir.

- OK. Let's go, man.

- All right. Can you tell me a little bit about how you coach and lead young kids, who are 18 to 23, and let's just say, the national team who are grown men and are world stars?

- Well, I think that the key word in leadership is to adapt to the group that you have the honor to lead. In other words, OK, the college kids. They haven't crossed any bridges, yet. And so you're in a position where you-- they have to adapt the most to you. I'll adapt to their personalities and as I see them adjust but I'm going to help them across the bridge. With the US team, they've crossed bridges.

- That's right.

- And what you try to do then is to adapt to one another. Get best practices.

- You know, I grew up with Jason. We bro-- Jason Kidd, who was both in only game together, I know at one point he said, hey, coach. What do you want me to do? How do you want me to change? And I think-- what did you say to him?

- Yeah. That was our first practice. It's great-- that's a great thing. And it's our first practice. So he comes up and he says that. What I said, you know what? You be you. He said, what do you mean? I said just-- just be you. Let me see who you are. He says, you're kidding. I said, No. Do it. So this is an interesting thing that happened. During a practice, we're doing drills. And LeBron and Kobe are, you know, in these drills. And the ball is going everywhere. So I bring them together. I said, look, yo, what's going on? You know, Jason said, look, I'll, you know, I'll change. And Kobe and LeBron said, you don't change. We've never been with anybody who passes that way. Let us adapt to you. I got chills saying-- it's one of the great. Isn't that great?

- I love that. 38 years at Duke. You are the-- kind of the poster boy and synonymous with loyalty. And I think about the modern day John Wooden or think about someone like Warren Buffett, who's one of my mentors, and he's been leading Berkshire Hathaway for over 50 years.

- Pretty well.

- Much like you've led, you know, West Point and then Duke. Let me tell you-- take you to 1990, when Red Auerbach and Larry Bird come calling. How do you walk away from that? And then we'll talk about Doctor Buss but let's first talk about the Celtics.

- Well, you get offers. You all get offers. Anyone who is talented and, you know, done-- been successful gets offers. So I've never thought of ever going to another college, another university. But I always-- I loved the NBA. And the two storied franchises were the Celtics and the Lakers, for me, growing up. So they offered me the Celtic job. And-- And I just couldn't do it.

You know, I love Duke. I love college basketball and I turned it down. And then two years later, I got to be an assistant on the dream team. We got to know Larry very well. And then 25 years later, the Lakers were serious and, again, Kobe was there. I recruited Kobe when he was a high school played. And I was 57 at the time. And I knew I had at least another decade in me. And I was wondering, should I do this? And they offer a lot of money and whatever. But, again, I couldn't do it. They offered $40 million for five years and that was their first offer.

- Wow.

- And we were building a center in honor of my mom and they were going to pay that off.


- So all of a sudden, I said, you know, wow. So my AD who was the best guy for me, has passed now, Tom butters, when he hired me in 1980, my first salary was $40,000. OK. And I never even asked about myself. I just accepted the job. My wife asked, you know, what do we get? And I said, I don't know. That's crazy. Isn't that crazy.

- It's a good way to get a divorce.

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: No but it's crazy. So now, 25 years later, the Lakers are [INAUDIBLE] and they offer 40 million. So they leave. I call my AD. He's no longer my AD but he's a friend. I said, you know, for advice, 40. Now 40 million. I said, what do you think? And he's-- And he's a real smart butt and he said, well, I think you should send me a 10% finders fee.


- I love it.

- And I said, you jerk. And I hung up on him and I stayed. And, actually, a few months after that, I was given the US coaching job. We won a couple national titles since then, had 11 years of coaching NBA players.

- Coach, there's a lot of discussions with the NCAA about this one and done. I want to hear your opinions on it.

- For me, the one and done is something, I think, it's not right for the kid. Were-- were you allowed to go right away?

- No. Three years, minimum.

- I know but you could've gone.

- At a high school.

- Right.


- OK. But that's what I'm saying is you had a choice. You know, Marvin Bagley doesn't have a choice. And, you know, a kid's career is like a dog's life. Is it 15 years? And so one year might be the difference between millions of dollars or-- or doing what you're supposed to do. I'm a big advocate for the youngster, and if a kid did go to college, I think he should be able to leave at any time. Just like any other-- any other student and we should adjust to that.

- This year's team, what excites you about it? What gets you a little bit nervous as far as challenges?

- Inexperienced talent. So the talent and the attitudes of my players is terrific, especially the starting group. And they want to learn. And what-- wha-- they have so much to learn in a condensed period of time. So the inexperience of not having gone through those lessons that you learn from experience.

Basically, like John Shire is on my staff. He won a national championship his senior year. He lost in the first round of the NCAA his-- his freshman year. Junior year, we got killed in th-- in the-- in the Sweet 16. You learn from those experience-- well, by senior, he was hard, and we won. We have to-- what's scary for me is can I get them in a one season to experience enough, to be mature enough, and understand what it takes to win a national championship.

- What would 69-- 70 year old Coach K tell a 21 year old Coach K?

- You got a lot to learn. And by the way, if you keep being a lifelong learner, you're going to have a pretty good life. And I'm a lifelong learner. I'm always trying to learn and I would say stick to it, man. You're-- you're going-- you're going to live your dream. You lived your dream playing ball.

- Yes, sir.

- I've been able to live my dream of coaching ball for my whole life.