Mike Krzyzewski has been instrumental to USA Basketball’s rise from its early 2000s nadir since being appointed head coach in 2005. And after leading the Americans on their quest for a third consecutive Olympic gold medal next summer, he’ll finally be retiring from the international game.
Coach K told ESPN’s Marc Stein that the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro will be his last on the sidelines with Team USA, and implied that program higher-ups have begun exploring a succession plan to replace him.
“It is. It definitely is,” Krzyzewski told ESPN about this being his last stint as head coach with USA Basketball. “I think it’s time to move ahead. During the next season there will be a number of decisions made about the future of USA Basketball with Rio [the roster] and coaching.
“There has to be a succession … a planned succession with really good people so we can keep the continuity of the program going.”
Krzyzewski said he has ambitions of continuing with USA Basketball in an advisory role following next summer’s Games. He also said that his successor could come from either the professional or college ranks as long as he has experience on the international level.
The 68-year-old committed to coaching Team USA through the 2012 Olympic Games upon taking over in the mid-2000s. But at the urging of LeBron James and a host of other superstars with whom he shares a close bond, Krzyzewski announced that he would remain on the sidelines through Rio in May 2013.
The Hall of Famer has amassed a 75-1 record with USA Basketball since 2005. He’s led the Americans to pair of gold medals in Olympic and FIBA World Cup competition, reshaping the once fledgling program back into the sport’s dominant international side – all while leading Duke to a similar brand of success marked by NCAA Championships in 2010 and 2015.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, former Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, and former New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams are Team USA’s lead assistants under Krzyzewski. Though all three will surely be considered for a promotion by managing director Jerry Colangelo and company, the most likely scenario is that USA Basketball goes outside the program to find its replacement for Krzyzewski.
But that’s of little consequence at the moment. For now, simply look forward to watching USA Basketball try for another gold in Rio next summer. And no matter if the team is successful in doing so, it will certainly look far different going forward without Krzyzewski running the show.