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Coach K: a legacy of basketball and publicity

Will Krzyzewskiville go the way of Henman Hill? Only time will tell.

The Mike Krzyzewski era is now in the books. And there are volumes.

In his 42 years as head basketball coach at Duke University (47 years total as a head coach), Krzyzewski — Coach K – developed a program that won. A lot. That created infinite marketing opportunities for Duke and himself. Lately, it seemed like he hosted a multi-media machine. 

But hit any watercooler or social media platform and people love or hate him, along with the program he led for more than four decades. Regardless of stories that were told in hoops circles, his wins only grew and he cemented his influence on college basketball. Give the man credit for a 1,129-309 record at Duke, 1,202-368 overall and creating one of the most dynamic college basketball programs. (That came to a head last Saturday night.) 

Krzyzewski was known to be stubborn, but he was also willing to learn. He voiced his frustration with college sports’ disorganization (who among us who watches college sports hasn’t?), but he seemed to adapt in ways that continued to inspire and motivate athletes. Also a hailed Olympics coach, he leaves the game as college athletes gain more off-the-court autonomy by law (well, at least fewer rules) and can capitalize on their personas much the way he did as his program grew.

Legacies aren’t just built on wins. They’re not measured by bank balances. They’re not demanding “yes sirs.” Legacies are built on goodwill in and around your circles. By all accounts, K had all of that and teams that respected him. Even as the farewell tour dragged on throughout the 2021-22 basketball season, his final team continued to improve.

Krzyzewski put Duke on the map. If I’m a Duke University trustee, I call the last 42 years a success.


©Gail Sideman,, 2022

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