At the 10th annual K Academy, Duke basketball’s five-day fantasy camp run by men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski and former players, Christian Laettner spoke to the media about a variety of topics, including his aspirations to become a head coach and his relationships with members of the team.
Laettner has most recently been in the news for his legal troubles, according to the Wall Street Journal owing debtors up to $30 million along with partner Brian Davis.
This year he tried his hand at coaching, working as an assistant with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the NBA Developmental League.
Below are excerpts from Laettner’s discussion with the media.
On the process of becoming a coach:
I hired an agent, Lonnie Cooper, out of Atlanta, so he’s trying to find me something, and that’s what you need when you’re trying to get into the coaching world…Lonnie’s on the job and a few other people are on the job and hopefully something will happen for me. And, if it doesn’t, hopefully I can go back to the D-League in the fall and work there.
On his first experience as a coach with the Mad Ants:
I learned a lot there. I had a blast. I loved it. It’s very enjoyable, very easy, very rewarding to be out there on the court. So, that was a lot of fun. I loved it except for being away from my wife and my kids.
On whether he would prefer to coach in the NBA or college:
I would say NBA most likely. That’s what I would choose if I could…. That pro level of basketball is what you always strive to reach and play at and coach and affect somehow someway. That’s why I’m attracted to the pro game. I loved it, even when I was on teams that weren’t very good, I still loved it. I loved the whole form of entertainment. I think that’s what would suit me best.
On being a more renowned college player but still wanting to coach in the NBA:
That might be the case but just because you’re more renowned for something doesn’t mean you like it better. And I loved the college experience but the pros is just a lot of fun.
On potentially coaching at Duke:
If the opportunity arose I would probably consider it. But they’ve got a long line and I don’t want to leap frog anybody or screw up the system in anyway. So, that’s a tough ‘if.’ I don’t see that happening, so I’m not even really thinking about that. Now, if they had Coach K and then one assistant maybe I’d consider that.
On his coaching style:
That’s a self-critiquing job and I don’t do that very often. As an assistant coach I tried to be friends with them more than anything–real respectful to them, have fun with them, goof around with them. And once they accepted me I might mention one or two things they can do a little better, like on a free throw or something. I think as an assistant coach, though, you just try to be friendly with them. Now, as a head coach it’s different, you can’t be friends with all of them. And that’s a whole different dichotomy there. But for this experience just try to be friends, support them, encourage them and push them.”
On how head coach Mike Krzyzewski affects him as a coach:
I think that’s probably 50 percent of what I deliver out there as a coach. He’s affecting every mannerism, the way you’re delivering your talk, your words, how you’re showing them things, defensive philosophies out there. He comes into play a lot. And like I said 50 percent of my overall coaching style I’m trying to replicate–not replicate–use as influence.
On his legal troubles and his relationship with Krzyzewski:
He’s somebody I confide in and ask for advice and suggestions from, yes. He’s been doing it for 20 years, ever since I left. He helps me in good times. He helps me in bad times. He helps me through everything and that’s the greatest resource he is to me.
On coming back to Duke for the K Academy:
To see all my buddies, old teammates, guys I looked up to when I was in high school, or guys I’ve been following since I left Duke is just a lot of fun. I think a lot of people love [the camp] because a lot of the same coaches keep coming back.
On working with current players at the K Academy:
I always do a little bit. I’ve been here three out of the last four years, when all the Plumlees were here and Zoubek and I’ve worked out with them a little…. The last time I worked out with anyone was with Mason, Miles and Zoubek a few years ago
On Mason Plumlee:
I think he’s doing great. I just think there’s a few things he can perfect so that he can be dominant. He is dominant sometimes. I know they would like to see him more dominant all the time and I think he can do that. He has the potential to do that.