The legacy of Mike Krzyzewski


Darin Martin, Editor

Coach Mike Krzyzewski is known as one of, if not the, best coaches in basketball history. In 42 years as head coach of the Duke University men’s basketball team he has led the Blue Devils to 13 final fours, five national championships, 15 ACC tournament championships, and 13 ACC regular season titles.

After spending five seasons at Army, Krzyzewski was appointed head coach of the Duke men’s basketball program on March 18, 1980. The first couple of years were spent rebuilding the program. Duke made their first NCAA tournament appearance in 1984 as a #3 seed in the west. They lost in the second round to Washington, but it was just a precursor of what was to come.

Krzyzewski led Duke to their first final four appearance under him in 1986. After losing in the final to Louisville, they went on to make the final four six out of the next eight seasons, including five in a row from 1988-1992. They won the national championship in back-to-back seasons in 1991 and 1992, becoming the first program to win back-to-back titles since UCLA in the 1970s.

In 1994, Krzyzewski almost had to quit basketball. In October of that year, he had surgery to repair a ruptured disk in his back. He returned to the sidelines later that year using a special stool that allowed him to stay off his feet. But eventually the pain became so extreme that he could not continue. He had planned to resign as head coach, but the athletic director Tom Butters convinced him to take a leave of absence instead.

In 2005, Krzyzewski was appointed head coach of USA basketball, tasked with returning Team USA to the top after a disappointing bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics. He led Team USA to three straight gold medals in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 olympic games. Krzyzewski has amassed a record of 88-1 while coaching Team USA and has a 24-0 record at the Olympics.

During his nearly 50 years of coaching, Krzyzewski has a career .760 winning percentage and a total record of 1,202-368, making him the winningest coach in college basketball history, and he will go down as arguably the best ever.