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Archive for the ‘Mike Krzyzewski’ Category

August 11, 2012

The family Krzyzewski gathered at an Italian restaurant late last week, all 16 of them, as the end to another Olympic basketball tournament drew near. Children crawled under the table. Food spilled. Babies cried.

Mike Krzyzewski, the family patriarch, zoned out the chaos that surrounded him. As coach of the United States men’s national team, as architect of USA Basketball’s resurgence, he knew Argentina waited in the semifinals. His face betrayed his focus, which was not on dinner.

“Just a relaxing night with your family, right?” his middle daughter, Lindy Frasher, said to him.

As Frasher retold the story Saturday, he looked at her, raised an eyebrow and nodded. Mission mode, she called his facial expression.

Krzyzewski will coach in what seems certain to be his final international basketball game Sunday, a gold medal rematch between the United States and Spain. Beyond the 12 men he will lead onto the court at North Greenwich Arena, those closest to him will also be in attendance, and they are all female. They are his three daughters and his wife, Mickie.

He referred to them in one news conference last week, after a female moderator cut one answer off. “I’m surrounded by women,” Krzyzewski joked. “I’m used to being bossed around.”

Surrounded by women, Krzyzewski, of all people. He grew up without a sister, went to an all-boys Catholic high school, attended West Point before it allowed women, served in the Army and became a basketball coach. A men’s basketball coach.

Now, the women in his life, the ones who call his Duke team “our Duke team,” helped him to become both a better coach and an international one. The family traveled to every tournament, as Krzyzewski coached LeBron James and Kobe Bryant by day and returned to his wife and his children and his grandchildren at night. Frasher said that over the years, “We, I don’t want to say, softened him.” She paused. “But we softened him.”

“He would be a nightmare if he had sons,” his oldest child, Debbie Savarino, added.

They saw the gentler Krzyzewski before the Argentina game, when just before tip-off, he looked for his family in the stands. He found his grandchildren and motioned to them, his index finger moving up and down. The kiddo finger, they call it.

Mickie and the couple’s daughters — Savarino, 41; Frasher, 35; Jamie Spatola, 30 — gathered around a banquet table at the team hotel Saturday night and tried not to think about the end. The children were just that back in 1992, when Krzyzewski served as an assistant with the Dream Team at the Barcelona Games. They played checkers in the game room, next to where the future Hall of Famers held their card games every night.

The pressure did not exist then, not with that team, not as the family of an assistant. It felt, Savarino said, “like a big family vacation.”

Over the years, Krzyzewski’s daughters sometimes wondered if he would coach the national team. That became a reality in 2005, when the couple went to Las Vegas on vacation and Jerry Colangelo, chairman of USA Basketball, flew out and took Krzyzewski to dinner.

Mickie joined them for dessert. She knew right away that her husband had broken one family rule, a vote on all major decisions. She knew her husband well enough to know he would not turn the job down.

“People maybe think this is schmaltzy and hokey, but he’s very, very patriotic,” she said. “And very service oriented.”

The family joined Krzyzewski and the so-called Redeem Team for the Beijing Games in 2008. Spatola sat in on meetings, conducted interviews and wrote a book, “The Gold Standard,” based on her father’s USA Basketball experience — a family affair, even in print.

Beijing felt so much different than Barcelona. In 2008, Krzyzewski coached the best basketball players in the world, and if they lost, for whatever reason, the blame would have fallen to the college coach in charge of them.

“I was terrified,” Frasher said. “We felt like my dad’s legacy was on the line.”

The United States played Spain for the gold medal. Normally, in crunch time, Frasher will look to Savarino for reassurance, a “we’re good,” or a “don’t worry.” With two minutes left against Spain, Frasher looked over. “This is really bad,” Savarino told her. Spatola curled up in the fetal position, nearly unable to watch.

When the United States won gold, each player draped his medal around Krzyzewski’s neck. In the stands, his family cried. The family later watched that game together. Krzyzewski explained what had happened on the court. His daughters told him what had happened in the stands.

After the Olympics ended, Krzyzewski did not emphatically say he planned to quit the international job. He met with Colangelo when both happened to be in Chicago for a conference. They ordered deep dish pizza and drank red wine.

“We sat in the hotel lobby,” Colangelo said. “A Polish kid and an Italian kid from Chicago. Two neighborhood guys. That’s how things get done.”

When Krzyzewski signed on for another four years, his family did as well. That meant he would hold Team USA training camps in the summers, meant he would coach the Americans in Turkey in the world championships in 2010. They knew the time it took, the scouting involved, even if to the rest of the world the gig seemed remarkably easy. A reporter asked Krzyzewski last week if coaching all these All-Stars felt like kindergarten.

His family saw the work involved. After the United States toppled Argentina on Friday, Krzyzewski and his staff broke down tape. Mickie said he returned to their hotel room at 5:15 a.m. and paced the room before he went to bed. Serious to the end, apparently. Krzyzewski did join his family for a day of sightseeing; they took in Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben.

At a recent team meal, as each player entered, the room broke into applause. USA Basketball’s extended family clapped for Krzyzewski, too. He silenced the room immediately. “Let’s save it,” he said.

Krzyzewski met his wife in Chicago, through a mutual friend. He asked her out the first time he met her. He took her to a Martha Reeves and the Vandellas show. They danced. When he returned to West Point, he wrote her a letter and asked if she would go to a Chicago Bears game on one of his breaks. He later told her that in that instance she was his third choice. They married the day he graduated.

“I used to tell him, I didn’t sign up for this coaching gig,” she said. “I married a soldier. But what I realized is that he’s still a soldier.”

Mission mode throughout.

from:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/12/sports/olympics/coach-krzyzewski-nurtures-champions-with-family-at-his-side.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

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Mike Krzyzewski was born on February 13th, 1947 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Krzyzewski

February 13th, 1947

2 + 13 +1+9+4+7 = 36 = his life lesson = Managing.  Crushing the competition.

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