You can like or hate Duke University basketball, but there is no disputing the excellence demonstrated by its coach, Mike Krzyzewski, who today recorded win number 1,000 as the Blue Devils defeated St. Johns in New York's famed Madison Square Garden. I remember the first three seasons of Coach K's tenure at Duke, when he was battling Dean Smith's vaunted Tar Heels and Terry Holland's Virginia Cavaliers led by three time player of the year Ralph Sampson. After the Blue Devils finished the 1982-83 campaign with a record of 11- 17 which followed the previous season's 10 - 17 tally, I doubt many would have predicted that today the team's coach would be celebrating an unprecedented and possibly historic milestone.
After a thousand wins, eleven Final Four appearances, four national championships, two World Championships and two Olympic Gold medals, it's hard to believe that at one time Coach K's Duke record stood at 38 - 47. Over the following thirty-two seasons and thirty-one NCAA appearances, he has set a standard of excellence that will surely be impossible to replicate. The only reason he missed that single NCAA tournament was because he was sidelined with a back injury during the 1994 - 95 season. I admire anyone that demonstrates a long history of exemplary work, and in athletics, at any level, that describes Mike Krzyzewski. His teams play hard, he recruits well and the kids graduate.
Should he have taken his talents to the professional ranks? Well, in a way he did, by signing on to coach the United States Olympic basketball team. He led a superstar studded team to consecutive Olympic gold medals, something that the nation had been yearning for since the days of the original Dream Team.
Could he have finished with more national titles? No question. But it's doubtful anyone can look back on a yet to be completed coaching career and see anything to tarnish what to date has been a wonderful career. Way to go, Coach K!
Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com and Smashwords.