"He was the right guy at the right time," Colangelo said. "He's been so important to me in everything we've done in building the infrastructure and philosophy and standards — all of it. His legacy goes beyond the record on the court. We're 52-1 since this all began, and hopefully we'll be 53-1 after tomorrow. That's a legacy in itself.
"I really love him and respect him."
The feeling is mutual. Krzyzewski believes Colangelo deserves his own gold medal.
"He's the biggest difference for USA basketball," Krzyzewski said. "I don't know when the time comes and he has to give it up how he'll be replaced. You can replace a coach and you can replace players. But what he's done, I think he is the most irreplaceable part of this."
The two men have re-established the U.S. gold standard together, and Colangelo isn't the only one who can't imagine where U.S. basketball might be if not for Krzyzewski's imprint.
Coaches don't receive Olympic medals, but when the Americans beat Spain four years ago in China, all 12 U.S. players draped their awards around Krzyzewski's neck. It was their way of expressing gratitude to a coach who had pulled them together and pushed the U.S. back to the top.
Krzyzewski plans to stay with USA basketball after he's done coaching. To him, it would be a mistake not to utilize what he's learned during this seven-year run.
"I'll be involved," he said. "One thing we screw up in college is when a John Thompson retires or Bob Knight or Dean Smith, we don't use their institutional memory in any way unless they get on TV or whatever, and it's really a violation ... of something. It's really stupid that institutional memory is not used, and we'll try to do that with USA basketball.
"If you were in music, you would have wanted somebody who had played that instrument for 40 or 50 years and played it well. That's what we're trying to do."
Krzyzewski has done his part.
He's got one more game, his last note.
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