From the Desk
In the world of sports and fandom, competition forces disagreement, and arguments abound. But on Sunday, Jan. 25, those arguments seemed to fall to the side as people across the nation marveled at the accomplishments of one man — Coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Though he already passed his mentor and former coach Bob Knight for the title of winningest coach in men’s Division I (DI) basketball a few seasons ago, Coach K is now also the only DI coach to earn 1,000 wins.
Despite the fact that I have not been around for all 40 years of Coach K’s tenure at Duke, as a Duke fan and as a Coach K fan, I can remember several of the important moments in the his timeline of accomplishments. In 2004 when I was 11 years old, I remember Coach K joining the 700-win club. Not long after, I can recall when the Gerald-Henderson-led squad gave Coach K win No. 800. In my first semester of college, I remember following as Coach K went for the record-breaking win and rejoiced as a win over Michigan State gave him “903 and Kounting.”
Now, after yelling, pounding my fists on the desk and holding my breath as the Blue Devils utilized a zone defense for only the third time in what seems like years to rally to beat St. John’s at Madison Square Garden, I can say with certainty that I will remember Sunday’s win for a long time to come.
Although Coach K will forever be associated with greatness in basketball history, his path to get there was not easy. In his first three seasons with Duke, Coach K went 38-47. People wanted him gone. Can you imagine how different NCAA basketball would have looked?
However, for as horrible of a start as Coach K had, he is also associated with some of the greatest moments in college basketball history. (Anyone remember “the shot” from Christian Laettner?)
Additionally, Coach K will always be remembered for his love for and commitment to the game of basketball. At 67 years old, Coach K brings more energy to the court than many fans or even players do. In recent years, I have watched him go down to his knees and slap the floor, encouraging his team to give everything they could on the defensive end. With one wave of his arms, Coach K can get the already raucous Cameron Crazies to raise their voices even more to a nearly deafening decibel as they rally behind their Blue Devils in support.
But for all his influence and accomplishments, what is even more impressive to me is his commitment to his players and his humility. Even with his 1,000 wins — which include four NCAA Tournament Championships, 11 Final Four appearances and a whopping 82 NCAA Tournament wins — Coach K is only ever out to make his players and his team better.
Across the nation, Coach K is considered to be one of the best coaches in basketball history, and I am inclined to agree. Coach K’s achievements are unrivaled, and his commitment to and expertise in the game of basketball will be remembered long after he has left the sport.
After all, there’s only 1K.
BROWN is the editor-in-chief