Coach K wins his 903rd game

Story by Sam Rosenberry

I like Duke basketball. There, I said it. I can hear everyone’s gasps and see all the looks of disgust. I apologize for all the ulcers I induced. Yes, I like the Blue Devils, and I’m proud to admit it.

I have liked them since 1999. Yep, I remember the exact year, which is the opposite of what a crazy person would do, of course.

My dad is a huge Duke fan, so I watched the title game with him, and even though they lost, I became hooked. Which is weird because I usually liked the opposite team my dad did, but with Duke, we had common ground.

So naturally I’m pleased to say that Mike Krzyzewski is now the winningest coach in college basketball history. Yeah, he won 73 of his 903 wins while coaching Army, but the remaining wins were with the Blue Devils.

He is Duke. The floor in Cameron Indoor Stadium is named after him. The grassy area outside the arena is called K-Ville for him. He is the reason why I like them and the reason why everyone should at least respect them.

Obviously his stats are crazy. Coach K has four national championships, eight title game appearances and has been to 11 Final Fours.

He also won 13 ACC Tournament Championships and won the regular season 12 times. With the exception of maybe the last couple of years, the ACC has been easily one of the most competitive conferences in the country.

He coached nine Naismith players of the year. The only coach that I would put above him is John Wooden, because The Wizard of Westwood has the disadvantage of having fewer games in his seasons and tournaments.

He has even won Olympic Gold.

But no, he’s admirable because he graduates so many of his players. He still has players leaving early for the pros, but he gets many to stick around and get their degrees.

He keeps his composure during games and during press conferences. He seldom blames officials for losses. He will publicly defend his players, so occasionally there will be a swipe at the referees but not often.

He is also respectful to other coaches and teams. He doesn’t pull a Jim Harbaugh and act like a crazy person after a win. Coach K also doesn’t belittle other teams like what Roy Williams did with the Badgers.

The NBA has even come calling before, which would have meant more money for Coach K, but he turned them down four times. OK, he makes a king’s ransom right now, but I mention this mainly for the loyalty it shows.

He has stuck with Duke despite good opportunities elsewhere. Opportunities that other coaches (*cough* Rick Pitino *cough*) have taken.

He is also loyal to the people in his life, such as Bob Knight, whom Coach K passed in wins the other night. Bob Knight coached Krzyzewski in college, and the two are still close. This is impressive considering Bob Knight is probably not the easiest person to be around all the time.

For some reason, I feel like Knight has some attitude behaviors. I would go as far as saying that occasionally he has been angry.

I don’t think Krzyzewski condones his poor behavior, but it sticks with him — almost like family. That’s something that I respect.

He also donates money to several charities. He even started the Emily Krzyzewski (his mother) Center in Durham, N.C., which aims to give disadvantaged students a chance to achieve great things.

Ultimately, Coach K is a class act, yet people seem to have this crazy hatred for Duke. If you hate them for arrogance, then you should hate North Carolina, Michigan State and UCLA, too.

Maybe it’s that Duke is a private school. Maybe it’s a combination of several things. Maybe people just are afraid to associate with a devil even if it’s blue. Devils are bad news, of course.

Whatever the reason, it’s fine. Go ahead and hate Duke, but it makes no sense to hate Krzyzewski.