Sports Illustrated announced today that Miami Heat forward LeBron James will be the magazine’s 2012 Sportsman of the Year.
This comes a year after Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski shared the award with Tennessee women’s basketball head coach Pat Summitt. Coach K passed the NCAA Division I all-time wins record last season while Summitt is the all-time winningest coach in college basketball.
And James and Coach K share a connection—Krzyzewski has coached the U.S. Olympic basketball teams in 2008 and 2012, which James was on. Both teams won the gold medal.
In Lee Jenkins’ piece in Sports Illustrated announcing James as the Sportsman of the Year, he quotes Coach K in a few different instances:
“The game is a house, and some players only have one or two windows in their house because they can’t absorb any more light,” says Mike Krzyzewski, head coach of Team USA. “When I met LeBron, he only had a few windows, but then he learned how beautiful the game can be, so he put more windows in. Now he sees the damn game so well, it’s like he lives in a glass building. He has entered a state of mastery. There’s nothing he can’t do. God gave him a lot but he is using everything. He’s one of the unique sports figures of all time, really, and he’s right in that area where it’s all come together.”
“He’s not smart,” says Krzyzewski. “He’s brilliant. And I don’t like to use that word.”
“Over the years LeBron has learned that it’s not just what a leader says but how a leader looks that counts. It’s the non-verbal communication that can sometimes carry the day. His body language and facial expressions were so strong that day. He put us on his back.”
It happened again in the gold medal game [against Spain]. He had four fouls, and I had to take him out. I didn’t want to. That was our vulnerable spot because we didn’t have many big guys. He had to guard a center. Late in the second half, I couldn’t wait any longer to put him back in. I can still see him driving and dunking, and taking that three. He made the winning plays for us.
For all of Coach K’s quotes and Lee Jenkins’ entire piece on James, check out SI.com.