Saturday, May 2, 2009

Coach K On Kobe: A Unique Competitor

I remember the first time I interviewed Kobe on live television following a Lakers game. I had just started at FOX Sports West, and I was reporting from the Lakers locker room following a win.

Kobe was wearing a blue and white Nike sweat suit, which I referenced at the end of the interview. I said something to the effect of "If you had gone to college, those Kentucky colors would have looked great on you." It was, of course, a direct reference to my alma mater.

Without hesitation Kobe responds, "Yeah, these Duke colors are nice."

Even in jest, Kobe hit me with the harshest of stingers on live tv. Welcome to LA, Michael.

I recall that story because I recently read some excerpts from Mike Krzyzewski's new book, "The Gold Standard," which is set to hit stores on May 4th.

If he had not decided to enter the NBA Draft following his senior season at Lower Merion High School, Kobe planned to take his talents to Duke and play for Coach K.

Their paths almost crossed again in 2004, after the Lakers did not renew Phil Jackson's contract. Kobe made it clear to Jerry Buss and Mitch Kupchak that he favored Krzyzewski to be the Lakers next coach. It turned out, however, that Coach K was not ready to leave Duke.

It wasn't until last year's Olympics that Kobe could finally see what it was like to play for Krzyzewski, but it may have been Coach K who was most looking forward to this union made in basketball.

"In finally getting my opportunity to coach Kobe Bryant, I found that he is who I thought he was," Krzyzewski writes in his new memoir.

"One of the most talented basketball players in the history of the game and the unique kind of competitor that may come around only once in a leader's lifetime."

To read more of Krzyzewski's takes on Kobe before the book comes out, check out Ramona Shelburne's article in the LA Daily News.

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