Coach K, Team USA on Kobe Bryant's Death
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski issued a statement following the death of Kobe Bryant.
“We have tragically lost one of the greatest sports figures of our time with the passing of Kobe Bryant,” Coach K’s statement read. “He was an incredibly gifted person who was universally respected. He was in constant pursuit of doing something special and there will never be a greater warrior in our sport. I had the amazing honor of coaching Kobe in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, and I will always remember how much he cherished representing his country in a first-class manner playing the game he so loved. The game of basketball is better today because of Kobe, and he deserves eternal appreciation for that. This is a devastating loss, made even more tragic by the passing of his daughter, Gianna, and all others on board. The entire Krzyzewski family is saddened as we genuinely loved and admired Kobe. We extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, Vanessa, their daughters Natalia, Bianka, and Capri, and the families of those involved.”
Krzyzewski recruited Bryant coming out of high school, before the future NBA superstar decided to bypass college and go straight to the NBA. Bryant has said that no one recruited him harder than Duke and Coach K, even after he announced that he was going pro. Bryant said in 2007 and 2017 that, had he gone to college, he would have played at Duke. (Although he’s also said in other interviews that he would have chosen UNC.)
Coach K got the chance to coach Bryant with the Team USA basketball team, and the pair won two gold medals together.
USA Basketball also issued a statement:
“USA Basketball has lost a real champion. Women's sports has lost one of their strongest advocates. Professional sports has lost a true legend who used his stature to make a difference in the world. Kobe viewed our women's athletes as role models for his daughter Gigi, for whom we are also grieving. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Vanessa, the rest of his family and the families of those who also were lost today.”