Why Mike Krzyzewski Must Take His Talents to the NBA

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 10:  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski looks on before taking on Argentina in the Men's Basketball semifinal match on Day 14 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the North Greenwich Arenaon August 10, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Mike Krzyzewski has served as the head coach for the Duke Blue Devils since 1980, winning four NCAA Championships and appearing in the Final Four 11 times. 

If that's not an iconic legacy, then no such thing exists.

With so much already accomplished at the collegiate level, it's understandable, and perhaps appropriate, that we wonder what he could do at the next level. More than a few pro teams would also like to find out.

With Coach K leaving behind his similarly successful role as head coach of Team USA, is it finally time for him to leave Duke behind while he's at it?

After all, he's proven in that Olympic capacity to be more than capable of working well with the NBA's biggest egos. Surely, he could do the same with a club like the Los Angeles Lakers, or even Clippers—assuming such a club were interested in his services, of course.

But who are we kidding?

If Mike Brown doesn't take the even more star-studded Lakers all the way this season, we might just see Duke force him to take the job for the good of all humanity. Krzyzewski said he wouldn't be interested in the job back in 2011, but admitted he'd been tempted (via ESPN L.A.'s Arash Markazi):

"I've never thought of ever leaving Duke for another school but there were three serious times where I almost left to go to the pros," Krzyzewski said. "One was when Dave Gavitt took over the Celtics [in 1990], another was with the Trailblazers [in 1994] and the one that I took to a really far level was the Lakers situation. They were great with me. I just could not give up what I've done and gotten at Duke. It just wasn't worth it."

Coach K was referring to a deal he was offered by GM Mitch Kupchak in the summer of 2004. If he was tempted by an organization in flux, he might find himself unable to say "no" given the much-improved state of today's Lakers.

Who better to see out the waning years of Kobe's career than a guy who's no stranger to coaching his teams to the very top?

It's not that he has anything to prove. We all know he could be successful at the NBA level whether he ever actually coaches a game at that level.

On the contrary, it's that Krzyzewski has already proven everything that he can at the college level.

He's still just 65 years old and could easily spend four or five years leading the way to one more dynastic chapter for the Purple and Gold. The other Los Angeles team might be a less attractive destination, but bringing Coach K into the fold just might sell Chris Paul on sticking around.

Whether Krzyzewski could be sold on the arrangement is another question. The Lakers seem like the more probable destination, especially given Mike Brown's relatively rocky start to the post-Phil Jackson era.

Of course, any talk about specific gigs is a bit premature. For now, the important point is simply that the guy should make the jump while he still can.

He'll never look back and wonder what more he could have done for Duke. He's already done more than enough, and even the most faithful of leaders should be able to accept they have gone above and beyond their obligations to lead.

Other teams need leaders too.