Coach K enjoys having Team USA players in stands
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — While attention draws closer to next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, four members of Team USA’s 2008 basketball team found themselves in the same building Wednesday night.
Superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat as well as Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers took in the Miami-Duke game at BankUnited Center.
All three players were on the court when the Americans redeemed themselves against Spain for the gold medal in Beijing.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has been at the helm of Team USA since 2006, said he didn’t get a chance to talk with them but knew they were going to be in attendance.
"Those are great guys, and I appreciate them coming," said Krzyzewski, whose 18th-ranked Blue Devils won 67-46.
During his postgame press conference, Krzyzewski reminisced about Wade’s big shots and Bryant’s four-point play in 2008 and about how James and Bryant led Team USA to another gold two years ago in London.
Before the previous two Olympics, the Americans disappointed with a bronze showing in 2004 in Athens.
"Over the last eight years along with (Kevin) Durant and (Chris) Paul and Carmelo (Anthony) and those guys, they’ve really set a great example of how you should play the game and love the game," Krzyzewski said. "I think it’s filtered through all aspects of U.S. basketball now. The kids are better, they appreciate the game better at all levels, and it starts with those guys."
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo and Krzyzewski, who will coach the 2016 team in Rio de Janeiro, announced their 28-player pool for the next three summers on Thursday.
The list includes veterans James, Durant, Paul and Anthony as well as newcomers Paul George, Blake Griffin and Kyrie Irving.
Krzyzewski teased a reporter when asked Wednesday night whether James, the two-time reigning NBA MVP, could be swayed to rejoin the roster. James, who has played in three straight Olympics, hasn’t said whether he would once again compete.
"Oh, he’s got a long way to go," Krzyzewski joked. "There are a lot of good players."