The boss of the Olympic gold medal team—and Duke—has a weekly XM radio show
Dan Patrick: Biggest guest you've had on?
Mike Krzyzewski: Mrs. [Barbara] Bush. And we just had Coach Knight on.
DP: You used to work for him at Army. Did you ever think that you would be coaching a game where he was the color analyst?
MK: No. I had to look over there a couple of times during our Southern Illinois game. I wondered if he thought we were playing good enough.
DP: Because he's coaching while he's broadcasting.
MK: I like it. It's different. He's talking about the game, which is a neat thing that a lot of analysts don't do.
DP: Did you try to dial Kobe down during Olympic practice? Because he practices the way he plays.
MK: No. We just kept our practices short. I would tell them, Do you think a great singer doesn't rehearse hard? Is the first time she or he hits that high note in front of 100,000 people? Or have they hit that note in practice in front of 10? We don't have to practice for three hours, but let's practice where we hit the high notes.
DP: So what you're saying is the Olympic team was Mariah Carey.
DP: Could I have coached them to a gold medal?
MK: No. They wouldn't have liked you.
DP: When's the last time you dunked?
MK: I dunked when I was a kid in Chicago on the playground. The rim was bent. And in those days they had eight-foot baskets for little kids. And I used to dunk like crazy on them.
DP: Were you the Jordan of eight-foot rims?
MK: I was pretty damn good, Dan. I'd block shots above the square. I was more of a Julius Erving type.
DP: I would have dunked on you.
MK: There might have been a time where you'd do that, like on a breakaway. But I would never intentionally foul you on a breakaway, which seems to be a common practice now.
DP: Would you have slid under me to take the fake charge that Duke is famous for?
MK: Taking a charge on you would be easy.
CHARLES BARKLEY created a stir when he said on the show that LeBron James needs to "shut the hell up" about his 2010 plans. Barkley had a point. I'm all for athletes being honest with the press—but in this case a full and frank answer isn't necessary. He needs to say, "Ask me in a year and a half." The Cavs can't call him on it for fear of annoying him. But just because James can say anything doesn't mean he should.
MAYBE THE most impressive thing about what Nick Saban has accomplished at Alabama is that he's done it in an environment that's hardly nurturing for coaches. For 26 years Tide fans have been waiting for someone to be worthy of Bear Bryant's job, and those expectations have led to some hasty—and messy—exits. Now that Saban seems to have tamed 'Bama, here are the most demanding head coaching jobs out there:
• Notre Dame football. If the scrutiny of jumpy bosses and zealous alums isn't enough, you've got Touchdown Jesus eyeing your every move. (Or is that now Punt Formation Jesus?)
• New York Yankees. All New York coaches have to deal with the tabloids and the fans. What makes the Yanks the toughest? Wall-to-wall Steinbrenners.
• Oakland Raiders. Ask Lane Kiffin about working for Al Davis.
• Indiana University basketball. Class act? Who cares. Hoosiers still pine for a coach who grabbed a player by the neck. Even more than that they want wins. And good luck getting them, Tom Crean, now that you're down to nine scholarship players.
GIVING THE NFL MVP to the quarterback of the best team might seem like a cop-out, but Eli Manning deserves the award. He isn't rewriting the record book, but Manning has held the team together as things around him have fallen apart. With Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Plaxico Burress missing, Manning has New York playing better than it did last year. We still tend to think of him as the little brother. But Eli is the little brother in age only.
THE FINE PRINT: The Lightning is 1-3-3 since firing coach Barry Melrose. In a related story, mousse has dropped to $5 a barrel.
Go to DANPATRICK.COM for more from Mike Krzyzewski and other recent interviews, and hear live audio of Dan's radio show, 9 a.m.--noon ET, Mon.--Fri.
ILLUSTRATION BY KEITH WITMER
JOHN BIEVER (JAMES)
DAVID E. KLUTHO (SABAN)
LOUIE TRAUB/AP (KRZYZEWSKI)