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#pounditTuesday, March 21, 2023

LeBron James had message for Coach K about Kobe Bryant during 2008 Olympics

Kobe Bryant

A new book about Mike Krzyzewski has been making some headlines since excerpts were published.

At first, a story went viral that discussed how Coach K disagreed with Duke’s pick for his successor. Now, another story is making headlines.

On Thursday, SI published an excerpt from Ian O’Connor’s book “Coach K” about the Duke coach. The excerpt talks about Coach K’s time leading the “Redeem Team” in the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

Coach K worked hard to get the team’s players to buy in and trust him. He had to get the buy in from Kobe Bryant, the most noteworthy player on the team. He also worked to get LeBron James to trust him, as this was before James had won anything of note as a player.

Krzyzewski felt the team’s players had accepted his message and were on board, but things got tested early in the Olympics during a close win over Australia.

Kobe apparently took some bad shots in the second half of the game and didn’t play much team ball. The players recognized Bryant was playing selfishly, and James even made a remark to Coach K that the coach needed to address things.

From the excerpt:

“Everyone knew it,” says one Team USA staffer. “They know when another player is being selfish. Players can police themselves, but in this instance, as LeBron was coming out of the game, he said to Mike, ‘Yo, Coach, you’d better fix that motherf—–,’ as he walks by. He was talking about Kobe.”

Sure enough, Krzyzewski listened and addressed things with Kobe. He met with Bryant at some point after the game and showed the late Lakers guard some film of the shots Bryant had taken despite having teammates who were open. Bryant accepted the criticism and told Coach K he understood the message and would be better.

It was agreed that everyone — from the coaches to the players — handled things as they should have. And the US ended up redeeming themselves from 2004 by winning gold in 2008.

The excerpt sure does a good job of selling O’Connor’s book. So did the report about Coach K’s successor.

Photo: Apr 13, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) reacts against the Utah Jazz in the first quarter at Staples Center. Bryant concludes his 20-year NBA career tonight. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports


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