There is something pleasantly refreshing, and also inspiring, about one of the most sought out, respected, and successful coaches speaking sincerely about his hopes and thoughts. The NBC interview with Coach K at halftime of the semi-final Argentina-USA game summarized this experience.
Coach K explained that his mentor, Bob Knight, offered words of encouragement as the popular Duke coach was about to embark on the mission of leading the current version of Team USA to Beijing. Even before he took the job, Coach K's decision process seemed to encompass a slight doubt, as if he asked himself, "Can I really do this? Am I the right person for this job? Will the players respond?"
Knight, most likely in a stern and convincing manner with more honesty than even the most straightforward Charles Barkley statement, told his former West Point guard the only advice Coach K needed: "Be yourself." The General continued to remind Coach K that he is a great coach and these are players that want to be coached. It's really as simple as that.
As Coach K replayed the Knight conversation, he became emotional. Anyone could tell that he was talking to NBC and its viewers from the gut, that it meant so much for Knight to justify Coach K's past. Knight made him recall that his apprentice has earned the respect of even the most accomplished pro ballplayers and possesses a knowledge of the game that even they appreciate. The conversation meant everything to Coach K, who is arguably one of the best coaches in the world, especially in terms of building a program.
Coach K understands what it means to lead the Redeem Team. He pointed out that these Games are the most significant set of basketball events that take place -- nothing against his Duke program, but that this is the Olympics. Once again, honesty and heart shining through to the world.
He is surrounded by the most talented NBA players, and there seems to be an understanding on both sides. He gives them his all, and they give him their's. They know what he preaches as a coach, and he has not had to worry about team building or emphasizing the importance of supporting fellow American athletes at other venues.
Coach K's humility may be the most redeeming part of this team.