From one of collegiate basketball’s finest to the NBA’s best.
USA Basketball didn’t have to look far or for too long to choose coach Mike Krzyzewski’s replacement as head coach of the men’s nationall basketball team.
Gregg Popovich, the architect of San Antonio’s five NBA championships, will get a chance to win an Olympic gold medal.
The Spurs’ bench tactician was given the nod Friday, October 23, to take over Krzyzewski’s job after the 2016 Olympics, something which, according to Popovich, was unaccepted.
”I can’t imagine having this opportunity,” Popovich told reporters in San Antonio. ”It’s still sinking in, but I love it.”
”This is a pretty overwhelming situation,” added Popovich. ”There are so many people out there that could do this sort of thing and to be selected and asked to do it is a very humbling experience, to say the least.”
Popovich will take over the coaching reins at the start of the 2017 training camp and prepare Team USA for the 2019 Basketball World Cup and 2020 Olympics should they qualify.
Krzyzewski has led the national team since 2005. He was able to lead the Americans to consecutive Olympic gold medals, two world titles, and a 75-1 record. The legendary Duke Blue Devils coach, the first from the collegiate ranks to lead the US team since NBA players were allowed in the Olympics in 1992, will have a different role as USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo’s special adviser.
According to Colangelo decided to tap a coach from the professional ranks, there was no question in his mind where to look.
”I had a short list,” said Colangelo. ”It started and ended with Pop. When we met, we had a great session. We talked about a lot of things: the past, the future. The more important thing is, where are we going, going forward? He asked me a question. He said, ‘What about you? Are you going to stay on? Are you going to continue? Because if you’re not, then I don’t have interest.”