'Coach K' proud recipient of Lincoln Award

Mike Krzyzewski woke up early Saturday, elated to do something he rarely can.

The Duke and USA Olympic men's basketball coach, winner of two gold medals and four NCAA national championships, went on a tour of his old haunts on the city's Northwest side.

He met his sister-in-law for a "nostalgic tour" and they visited the grave sites of his brother and his parents, his alma mater, the now-closed Weber High School, and his old house on the 2000 block of West Cortez Street.

"I hope I always have that spirit, that I grew up in Chicago," he said. "The pride of being part of something bigger than you, and the pride of representing something that is worthy of being represented. And Chicago is that."

"Coach K'' was in town to accept the Order of Lincoln Award at the Art Institute of Chicago from Gov. Pat Quinn. The Lincoln Award is the state's highest and is presented to ''those from Illinois who have brought honor to the state with their achievements.''

Krzyzewski has helped mold some of the brightest basketball stars in the city's recent history. He addressed Derrick Rose, the Simeon product who hopes to play for Team USA in the 2016 Olympics; Jabari Parker, a likely top-3 NBA draft pick from Simeon who's leaving Duke after one season; and Jahlil Okafor, Whitney Young's consensus No. 1 high school player in the country who will play for the Blue Devils in 2014-15.

"I think the common thread is that they're just really good guys," Krzyzewski said of the triumvirate. "They're great players and they're great guys. Sometimes that combination is not there. And they're humble. You're really talking about three of the best kids."

Rose was cleared for contact in practice with the Bulls last week, as he continues to rehab a torn meniscus in his left knee. Krzyzewski said he "expects" Rose will be able to compete in Team USA training camp this summer, but also acknowledges a lack of insight on Rose's physical condition. The 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup is from Aug. 30-Sept. 14.

"Hopefully he'll be back at full strength and be on our team," Krzyzewski said. "That would give him a big push before the start of next season."

Of Parker, Krzyzewski said. "I wish we had him longer. Super student, kid and player."

Krzyzewski was asked to be the grand marshall at the Polish Constitution Day parade Saturday, but the award ceremony directly conflicted with the parade. He hopes to correct that next year.

"I love my roots," Krzyzewski said. "They're with me all the time."


Twitter: @CityHall03

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