‘He’s easy to coach,’ the Duke legend says of the Lakers’ superstar. The pair has bonded even more while working with the U.S. team.
L.A. Times: On the court, Kobe Bryant has been a ferocious defender for Mike Krzyzewski in the FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament. Off the court, Krzyzewski is an equally strong defender of Bryant.
The bond between player and coach was formed when Bryant considered coming to Duke rather than jumping directly from high school to the pros. It was strengthened when Krzyzewski considered leaving Duke to coach the Lakers after Phil Jackson’s departure in 2004.
And it has been sealed now that they are finally united on the U.S. basketball team.
While Bryant has been heavily criticized for his meltdown after the NBA season, when he went back and forth on his desire to remain a Laker, Krzyzewski is sympathetic.
“I would always want guys who would want to win,” Krzyzewski said. “The fact that he’s frustrated because they are not winning at the level he would like, I think that’s a good problem. I’m sure the Lakers will work things out. The thing about Kobe is that every thing he does is so public. It’s the scrutiny placed on an individual who has won three world championships and is considered the best player in the world. That goes with the territory.”
Krzyzewski says he has been there for Bryant behind the scenes.