Coach K explains why the Anthony Edwards and Michael Jordan comparisons should

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards has leveled up during the NBA Playoffs and consequently has caught the attention of many. That includes Hall of Fame basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski.

The now-retired coach has worked with many basketball greats at Duke and as part of Team USA. He never got to coach Edwards, but Krzyzewski is definitely keeping an eye on the former Georgia Bulldog.

“The emergence of Anthony Edwards, everyone knew he was really good, but the playoffs give opportunities for players to get to another level, if they can get to another level,” Krzyzewski, speaking ahead of an event for the V Foundation, told CBS Sports. “That’s what has happened with Edwards. He shined. Not just shined but he has been amazing.”

One of Edwards’ most impressive performances was a 40-point game in the first round against the Suns. The performance included seven 3-pointers and helped Minnesota cap a four-game sweep. He followed that performance by dropping 43 points on the defending champions during Game 1 of the second round in Denver. Edwards and the Wolves will be back on the court Sunday night against Denver, looking for a 3-1 series lead.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft has been so impressive in these playoffs that he is getting compared to six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan. Krzyzewski was an assistant coach on the “Dream Team” that featured Jordan in the 1992 Olympics, and he also coached against a young MJ when Jordan was at North Carolina in the early 1980’s. In Coach K’s opinion, it is not quite fair to have that conversation yet.

“People should just slow down comparisons,” Krzyzewski said. “Jordan is as good as anyone who has ever played, Anthony Edwards is 23 years old. Michael Jordan did it his entire career. Jordan is bigger and a little bit longer. But in this day and age, Edwards has a chance to be that perimeter superstar.

“We are in a climate in which people want to give lists and comparisons. When you do it over a period of time is when you show just how great a player you are. I think Anthony Edwards will do that, but let’s give him some time to do it.”

While he sees his former player Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics as the clear favorites in the East, he described the West as “crazy.”

Krzyzewski said he has been very impressed with what Timberwolves president Tim Connelly has built, not just with Edwards but with the other players around him.

“He put together this team where there are two big guys, (Karl-Anthony) Towns and (Rudy) Gobert. That’s unusual in a league that has gone without centers,” Krzyzewski explained. “They have to be considered the favorites there.”

He did add that the series against the Nuggets shouldn’t be taken lightly because Denver has been “fantastic all year round.” He also gave credit to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are a young team but still managed to earn the No. 1 seed in an extremely competitive conference. Krzyzewkski said that OKC, currently competing against the Dallas Mavericks, will be a “tough out.”

Nevertheless, he is “leaning toward” the Timberwolves winning the West. Throughout his legendary coaching career, Krzyzewski chose not to coach in the league but he has a lot of respect for the NBA and is having fun watching the postseason action.

“I love that it’s as competitive as it’s been,” Krzyzewski said. “I think the playoffs have been physical and emotional. The guys are playing their butts off.”

The two-time Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee has hardly slowed down since retiring from coaching in 2022. Last year, Krzyzewski was named a special adviser to NBA basketball operations, a role in which he provides counsel to the league and team executives on several basketball issues. He also never really left the Blue Devils as he is still an ambassador to Duke and got to keep his office.

Although it is an Olympic year and he will not be coaching Team USA, he did find another project to work on. In September, Krzyzewski will be hosting the inaugural Chicago Epicurean, a three-day culinary event in support of the V Foundation for Cancer Research. As a well-known basketball figure, and a close friend to the late Jim Valvano, Krzyzewkski said it is his duty to continue to participate in game-changing activities.

“I’ve had an opportunity to coach great teams in college and for the United States, and being on the V Foundation is being on another great team,” Krzyzewkski. “But the game we have to win is a long game and it requires commitment — daily commitment.”

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