Coach K, as Mike Krzyzewski is known in basketball circles, heaped great praise on Lakers legend Kobe Bryant in a recent interview.
The revered Duke head coach is one of the most successful coaches in college basketball history. Krzyzewski’s record speaks for itself. His 5 NCAA titles in over 40 years as a head coach with the Blue Devils aside, Coach K has also won 3 successive Olympic gold medals with Team USA.
During his team in charge of the national team program, Krzyzewski relied extensively on Kobe Bryant. The Lakers legend was first called up for national team duty after Team USA had finished 3rd in the 2006 FIBA World Cup.
Even with a talent-laden roster including the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony, they had failed to get back to their gold medal-winning ways.
It fell to the Black Mamba to bring new energy into a setup that seemed to lack that final gear. Kobe obliged, and the rest is history.
Mike Krzyzewski reveals he never watched LeBron James in high school, praises Kobe Bryant
LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are arguably the two greatest players to play in the NBA straight out of high school. Both were well-known as transcendent talents, so naturally, Coach K did not recruit them heavily.
“You know, I never thought he would go to college. We recruited him but … no one recruited him to any deep level because you knew. I never saw LeBron [James] play in high school, but when I saw Kobe play—he’s the best high school player I’ve ever seen.”
“And when he walked into a gym, he walked in like Michael Jordan, at a high school level. Like, the place stopped. He not only could play the role during a game, he played the role before and after the game. He looked that good, he believed he was that good, and he was that good. But, I knew he was never going to come [to Duke].”
Coach K’s revelations aside, it was quite clear that Kobe Bryant was a generational talent even in high school.