With the insistence that Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski won’t return as the U.S. men’s basketball coach, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni and Dwight Howard offered both similarities and differences on how they processed the news.
Both provided equal praise on how Krzyzewski led Team USA to two consecutive gold medals in both the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics.
“I had a lot of fun with the team with the guys and practices were great,” said Howard, who played on the 2008 team. “We worked extremely hard. He did a great job motivating us for every game and making sure we were ready to go out there and play for our country. It’s sad this is going to be his last run, but he had a really good run. We appreciate everything he did for our team.”
“He’s a great guy and we have fun,” said D’Antoni, who served as one of Krzyzewski’s assistants. “Great coach. It’s exciting to represent your country and do something that’s fun to do and be a part of what’s happening the last eight years and being around the best players in the world. It’s great. There’s no negatives.”
Howard sounded specific on his where he’d want to play for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero.
“No doubt,” he said.
D’Antoni seemed unsure.
“We’ll see,” he said. “That’s not on my radar right now.”
Howard expressed frustration he couldn’t play in the 2012 Games because of a herniated disk in his back that required surgery last April and kept him sidelined for six months.
“I was [upset] and mad I couldn’t play in the playoffs and mad I couldn’t play in the Olympics,” Howard said. “I was [upset]. I was looking forward to going with London and looking forward to going to the playoffs last season. I wasn’t too happy with the fact I had to have surgery and miss a lot of basketball.”
D’Antoni sounded giddy on how everyone on Team USA embraced his offensive system, something that’s become a noticeable struggle in his first season with the Lakers.
“You have the best players in the world and everybody is putting their input in,” D’Antoni said. “We’re trying to get them to play the way they want to play and like to play and get them focused. When you have the best team, you try not to mess it up.”
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