Chicago native Coach K happy to be back

August, 16, 2014
Aug 16
Friedell By Nick Friedell
CHICAGO -- The happiest man in the United Center on Saturday night probably won't be Derrick Rose.

That's a surprise given how excited the former NBA MVP is to play in front of his home fans again for Team USA after playing in just five home games last season before a torn meniscus in his right knee ended his campaign.

The happiest man will be standing on Team USA's sidelines. That man would be Team USA head coach and Chicago native Mike Krzyzewski.

[+] EnlargeMike Krzyzewski
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

Most eyes will be on Derrick Rose during his return to the United Center. But Team USA coach and Chicago native Mike Krzyzewski is just as excited to be back in his hometown.

The Hall of Fame coach is relishing the chance to bring the national team back to his hometown.

"It makes it a little bit more special," Krzyzewski said. "It's always special coaching the U.S. team. But then when you're doing it about a mile and a half from where you grew up -- I grew up on Damen and Augusta -- that makes it even more important.

"I'm excited for the players, though. For Derrick, he's had a tough two-year period. He's doing great; he's one of the great guys in the world. And for Anthony [Davis], he's another one of the great guys; it's his first time back in Chicago since he left from high school."

Rose is expecting the atmosphere in his home arena to be booming. He said it would be kind of like playing in a pro-am game. He should get the loudest cheers of all. During pregame rehearsals before Saturday's game against Brazil, Rose's name was called last by regular Chicago Bulls public address announcer Tommy Edwards.

"Everybody's been talking about it in the city," Rose said. "It seems like there's a buzz. It's great what USA Basketball and Nike's been doing around the city with so many events. Keeping people occupied, keeping kids occupied and giving them something to do.

"I think it's going to help the city, and it should bring some light to the city."

For Krzyzewski, the growth his hometown has made since he was young is startling.

"It's changed a lot," he said. "It was great then and it's even better now. My dad used to own a tavern on 21st Place and Damen. To travel on Damen from 1000 north to 2100 south, it's a lot different now -- and great. Our team has marveled at the beauty of the city. We went to the Museum of Science and Industry for a team picture and the lakefront. Chicago's one of the great cities in the world."

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined for its launch in April 2009.



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Jimmy Butler
21.6 3.4 1.5 40.1
ReboundsP. Gasol 11.5
AssistsD. Rose 5.0
StealsJ. Butler 1.5
BlocksP. Gasol 2.0