Kyrie Irving, Mike Krzyzewski

During a hyped early-season game that represented a rematch of the classic 2010 Duke-Butler NCAA title contest and the return of New Jersey native Kyrie Irving to his home state, the freshman guard made a routine drive to the basket and injured his right big toe.

Irving scored 21 points, Duke won the Dec. 4, 2010, game, 82-70, in East Rutherford and not much thought was given to the injury, considering it was to a seemingly minor body part and this was just eight games into the season.

Kyrie Irving At Duke

But Irving had suffered bone and ligament damage, and did not return until the NCAA tournament, missing almost his entire freshman year.

The guard displayed such talent in his short tenure at Duke that he was one-and-done and selected No. 1 overall in the 2011 NBA Draft anyway, limiting Mike Krzyzewski's coaching of perhaps his most talented player ever to a mere 11 games.

"It's almost like unfinished business," said former Duke star Grant Hill.

With their new objective being Olympic gold, Coach K and Kyrie have reunited this summer.

"To have this opportunity again," Krzyzewski said, "I've enjoyed it immensely as hopefully he has."

Krzyzewski, whom Irving called a mentor, checks in on him at least once or twice a month during the NBA season, providing words of encouragement or tips on what he sees on the floor. Throughout the playoffs this year and when Irving was hurt last year, Coach K texted him to see how he was doing.

"It's a very unique relationship," Irving said. "Our bond started when he started recruiting me."

From the time he began cooking with Irving's stepmother during an in-home visit, Krzyzewski's recruiting pitch was that he would let Irving be himself while growing into his space with great people around him at Duke.

Mike Krzyzewski

"I'm glad I signed up," Irving said. "It was the best decision of my life. I'm just thankful, man."

The entire Olympic campaign has had a strong Blue Devil feel. When Team USA practiced in Chicago, former Duke assistant coach/player and current Northwestern coach Chris Collins stopped by. Kyrie Irving posted an Instagram picture from the Las Vegas training camp that included 11 staffers and U.S. Select Team players with Duke ties.

"Coach is a relationship guy," said Hill, who announced the exhibition games for NBA TV. "So I know he -- of all people -- really values the opportunity to coach Kyrie … I think Kyrie feels the same way."

The chance for such a reunion almost did not happen. Irving, who was born in Melbourne in 1992 when his father played there professionally, considered joining the Australian Olympic squad in 2012.

Irving told ESPN that he passed on that Australian opportunity when he found out that Krzyzewski would once again serve as Team USA's coach in 2016.

Suiting up for a different country precludes a player from ever playing on the U.S. team. That's why one of America's most talented young bigs, Karl-Anthony Towns, can't play on Team USA. He was on a John Calipari-coached Dominican Republic team as a 16-year-old in 2012.

Knowing Krzyzewski would be there in 2016, Irving went on to play for the U.S. during the 2014 FIBA World Cup. A starting guard on that team, he earned MVP honors after scoring 26 points and draining all six of his three-point attempts against Serbia in the gold-medal game.

Kyrie Irving

"When we won in Madrid two years ago, that was an incredible moment," Krzyzewski said, "for us just playing for the U.S. and for us just to be together."

This time, though, Irving enters international play at the apex of his career.

After hitting the game-winner with 53 seconds left in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, Irving has the opportunity to cap an epic summer by leading the USA to a gold medal as the team's starting point guard.

"It would be amazing," Irving said. "But I understand the amount of work that it takes to win -- not just a championship but the gold medal and playing with USA on your chest. It's bigger than all of us."

Despite Irving's heroics in the NBA Finals against the Warriors, in which he hit the game-winner, averaged 27.1 points and outdueled reigning MVP Steph Curry, Krzyzewski does not notice a difference in Irving's attitude.

He doesn't see a player with an added layer of confidence from the self-assured freshman he coached.

"He's always had the ability of wanting to be in the moment and being able to accept the consequences, positive or negative. Now he's just doing it on a world's stage," Krzyzewski said. "I knew when he was 17 that he was going to be great, and he's becoming that."

Kyrie Irving NBA Finals

Irving has an array of great skills. Not only is he a terrific shooter who made 44 percent of his three-pointers in the 2016 playoffs, but also his handle is exemplary. No matter the defensive pressure, he excels around the hoop, switching hands and deftly using the glass like a master of the Mikan drill. Krzyzewski called him the best layup-finisher in the world.

"He has that combination of talent, personality and intelligence," Krzyzewski said, "and then a commitment to working at all of those things."

Irving scored 13 points on just seven shot attempts during an exhibition against Venezuela, showcasing his offensive ability while serving as the Team USA's primary ballhandler and one of its best scorers.

"Kyrie is extremely skilled," said Venezuela guard John Cox, a former University of San Francisco player. "He can shoot it, beat you off the dribble. He's got the mid-range game."

Everyone is placed on the defensive against Irving, including his coach and mentor.

Kyrie Irving

During practice in Vegas, Irving poked fun at Krzyzewski's limping gait while the coach, who has undergone multiple knee and hip surgeries, demonstrated how to maneuver around a pick.

Krzyzewski responded by launching a couple of f-bombs, which Irving laughed off, making their relationship look more like one between siblings.

Sometimes acting as bickering brothers but usually as eager student and wise teacher, Coach K and Kyrie are back together this summer.

"I didn't get a chance to play for as many games as I would have liked at Duke, but this is just another opportunity to really play on a huge stage for a great coach, a great leader and someone that mentors me," Irving said. "This is his last hurrah going to the Olympics, and I'm looking forward to this journey."

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Follow Jeff Fedotin on Twitter @JFedotin.