Today, Legendary Duke Basketball Coach, Mike Krzyzewski joined the latest episode of “The Dream Team Tapes: Kobe, LeBron & The Redeem Team” from Diversion Podcasts for a rare in-depth discussion on his time with the 2008 Redeem Team.
During the episode, Coach K opens up about how he was able to adapt his coaching and mentoring style to pro players, drawing inspiration from his military background and Marvin Gaye’s legendary rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner,” as well as the time Kobe, LeBron and Dwayne Wade shut down his initial plan to hold two-a-day practices with the star-studded squad.
Later in the episode, Coach K looks back on his experience with Kobe Bryant, sharing how he was the best HS basketball player he’s ever seen and reveals why he didn’t try very hard to recruit him to Duke - because he knew there was zero chance he wasn’t going to the NBA.
Highlights and timestamps include:
- Coach K on how he tapped into his inner-city Chicago upbringing to set the tone in his first meeting and get the players to drop their guard a bit (9:41-10:34): “They don't expect me to come in and say motherfucker. And when you're talking and saying come on you motherfucker we gotta get this gold medal. All of a sudden I wasn't this guy from Duke and West Point. I was more the guy from the inner-city of Chicago."
- Jason Kidd shares his reaction to his first time hearing Coach K cuss (10:42-11:11): "First meeting we got to hear Coach K cuss and I couldn't believe it! Like this is the same guy that's on TV?? I think he set the whole tone, the whole mood relaxed and everyone wasn't on edge….When he first cussed I couldn't believe it!"
- Coach K on Kobe being the best HS recruit he’s ever seen and how nobody had a shot to get him to commit to a school (18:02-18:52): "I never thought he'd go to college. Nobody recruited him to any deep level because you knew. I never saw LeBron play in HS, but when I saw Kobe play and he's the best HS player I've ever seen. When he walked into a gym, he walked in like Jordan at a HS level..... He could not only play the role during a game, he played the role before and after the game. He looked that good, he believed he was that good and he was that good. But I knew he was never gonna come."
- On taking input from key players and receiving push back on his initial plan to hold two-a-day practices (35:48 - 36:35): "Before we ever had a practice I met with my leadership team - Jason Kidd, Dwayne Wade, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James - I said ‘we have a short period and we gotta have two practices a day.’ They looked at me and said 'coach we can't do that.' So I don't know if they're punking me or whatever…. They said, 'We all have our routines....Some of us will want to work after practice, some will want to come at night. Let us have our routines and you don't have to do any conditioning, we'll be in condition'....I'll tell you what they did!"
- Coach K on leaning on his military background and his connection to the armed forces to help bring the players closer to the idea of playing for team USA (40:50-41:26): "You don't just own something by listening and seeing. You own something by feeling and the military helped us immensely feel. That's why we always did things with the military so that our guys got it. We all became better people from being in there and that's the essence upon which that team and future teams are built on. That's the culture and god bless those guys for being able to feel that way."
- Carmelo Anthony on how Coach K was able to instill a sense of pride and service in the players and how Marvin Gaye’s rendition of the National Anthem helped that cause (43:46-44:37): “Coach K did a great job of making us understand what we were playing for...You have U.S.A on your chest, that means a lot. Even when we changed the national anthem and we started listening to the Marvin Gay version, that was Coach K's doing. That was his way of showing this is bigger than us. When you hear that national anthem you get goosebumps and Coach K would just play it, play it and play it.”