USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo assured the public Thursday that Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski will lead the Americans at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
In a statement, Colangelo made his thoughts clear (via Marc Stein of ESPN.com):
I'd like to clarify comments I made last weekend in Toronto. I fully expect Coach K to lead the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team in Rio. I was aware that [Krzyzewski] planned to have knee replacement surgery immediately after Duke's season was completed, but at no time have Coach and I ever discussed him not coaching the USA national team this summer.
I remain 100 percent convinced that there is no better coach to lead the U.S. as it looks to successfully defend its Olympic gold medal in Rio and represent the United States in a manner all Americans will be proud of.
The comments that Colangelo felt he had to clarify came while he spoke to NBA TV during All-Star Weekend. "Certainly in the back of my mind I'm thinking about what-ifs," he said (h/t Stein).
If Krzyzewski doesn't coach in the summer, it wouldn't be shocking. He's 69 years old, and earlier in February, he was admitted to Duke University Hospital and "was administered several tests, including cardiac and stress tests, after suffering an illness," per Stein.
It's set to be his final go-around with the U.S. team, as San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is slated to take over in 2019.
However, Krzyzewski confirmed that he will coach the team this year.
"Immediately after the Duke basketball season is completed, I will undergo replacement surgery on my left knee," he said. "Our medical team here at Duke and I expect a full recovery following the rehabilitation process and I have every intention of coaching the United States national team in Rio at the 2016 Olympics."
Colangelo spoke further with NBA TV about the concerns he had for his friend (via Stein):
I'm always concerned about people I love, and I love Coach K. You've heard my expression, 'We're joined at the hip,' and have been ever since we joined together back in '05. I am concerned about his health. I told him on the phone [recently] nothing is more important than his health. Not Duke basketball. Not USA Basketball. I hope and I pray that he can take care of his situations, whatever they may be, and that he's healthy and ready to go.
Krzyzewski is never one to shy away from a challenge after 41 years as a head coach. It appears as though he is going to take this one head-on and try to win a third Olympic gold medal. With 1,038 wins and five national championships in his back pocket, in addition to the two golds, fans should expect nothing less.