Krzyzewski wheeled on point guard Russell Westbrook. "Russell, when Kevin looks like that, how does it make you feel?"
"When Kevin looks like that, it makes me feel like we're gonna win," Westbrook replied.
"Kevin, if you look like that, before you make one shot or grab one rebound or stop one guy on defense, you've created a mood of winning."
Durant went on to dominate the worlds, averaging 33 points over the final three games. In his coach's judgment, no American has ever played better in an international competition. "Kevin had been lumped in with his peers and didn't know how to separate himself," Krzyzewski says. "Sometimes you have to show guys."
Under Krzyzewski this group of American pros has done nothing less than take ownership of their country's national team. More than that, in Beijing and Istanbul the players were reliably what many of their recent predecessors had failed to be: open and accessible practitioners of public diplomacy. "They don't play for the U.S. team," their coach says. "They are the U.S. team. I love that, and I love that they'd all tell you that. And that's why they all want to go to London." The reason Krzyzewski had to assemble an entirely new team for the 2010 worlds after the '08 Olympics is a testament to the culture he has created: No Olympian wanted to go to the worlds without his Beijing teammates.
During his time at Duke, Krzyzewski himself has undergone what literary critics would call character development. Back in the '80s, at a posttournament banquet during a trip the Blue Devils took through Europe, he had baffled his Russian counterparts, who couldn't understand how someone who subjected himself to so much stress would refuse to throw back a glass of vodka. Now he loves a fine wine. "He hasn't changed," says former center Alaa Abdelnaby. "He's adjusted. Not that he's pulled up on the gas at all. It's just that now he kind of looks left and right, checks out the mountains and the valleys and the views." Metaphors, it turns out, are contagious.
Former players who gathered at the Garden for the record-breaker against Michigan State on Nov. 15 served as muses for another poetic flight. "When we're together there's a bond, and not all of it is because you won a championship," Krzyzewski says. "It's because you did this thing together. It's like you've crossed a bridge, to trust. I'm not sure there are words to describe it, but it's a belief. If you lose while believing in one another, you can handle the loss. But in fact you have a really good chance of winning."
WOMAN ON HER FEET
The Lady Vols' days of traveling in vans are long over. It's 2008 and a charter jet is now standard equipment for an SEC road trip. As the head coach takes her accustomed seat in the first row, the flight attendant, settled into the jump seat across from her, begins to sob.
"What is it?" Summitt leans forward, the Miss Hazel in her kicking in. "Tell me, what's the matter?"