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Coach K:

Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

In Other Words

July 26, 2004 "It must be a slow week in sport. Actually, I'm astonished by (the national attention) and a little bit uneasy about it. It's on all the time. My daughter Debbie was at our house Saturday night, and every six seconds there was something on me. I finally told her, 'I'm sick of watching me.' Imagine how other people feel."

— Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski

"I thanked him and Mickie, because they were very classy about this whole thing. They didn't put a gun to the institution's head. They didn't try to leverage the situation. They handled it first-class and with dignity, and I really appreciate that, and so does the university."

— Duke athletic director Joe Alleva

"Did I think Coach K would ever leave? I'm sitting there saying, 'Why would he ever leave?' He's got an incredible house in Durham. His family, all his girls live there, and they're a very close-knit family. They've got a storybook life going there. He's got a program that produces every year. He's got a lifetime contract at Duke. It's almost like what every coach would love to have."

— Los Angeles Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy Sr.

"Around the 10th grade I discovered that no, I was not going to play for Coach K. And then I got to Duke. And discovered that, yes, I am going to play for Coach K. I am going to be his sixth man. We hear about it on TV, how the Crazies are like a team member, and we think, sure. We're a team member as soon as we get a jumper.

"But then we get to Duke, and we watch players from all over the country stare wide-eyed at us as their jumpers start to clang off the back iron. We get to Duke and we hear you speaking, imploring us to be louder, try harder, to give 100 percent. We get to Duke, and we realize you are our coach. Not just the coach of our team, but you are also our coach, because you believe that we give you something no one else can and we know that you give us something that no one ever could. Please still be my coach. I know that we can find more heart to offer an old Polish guy in the dark next year."

— Duke junior Andrew Humphries, in a note to Coach K

"They describe my son as an old-school player, and I guess he is. He wants to graduate, he wants to be captain of the team when he's a senior. But more than anything, he wanted to play basketball for Mike Krzyzewski. These really were his dreams hanging in the balance."

— Betty McClure, mother of Duke signee David McClure

"I've heard a lot of people on talk shows saying that he couldn't make it (in the NBA), that he's a screamer and a yeller and that they wouldn't put up with it. But I tell you, this guy is strong mentally, and he's a winner. I firmly believe he could win if he were the Duke football coach."

— College basketball analyst Dick Vitale

"History will show that frustration led Krzyzewski to this career crossroad. The short-term explanation will point to the defection of Luol Deng and the failed recruitment of Shaun Livingston. A longer look will include all those who preceded the lost last class — the parade of All-Americans that included Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, William Avery, Jason Williams, Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy, all since 1999. Before that, no one left Duke. Before that, Krzyzewski's only recruiting concerns were convincing kids to pick Durham over Chapel Hill. Some did; some didn't. But Krzyzewski built a program without regard to outside influence or professional competition.

"Somewhere along the way, he became dark. The graduation of Tim Duncan and the fall of Dean Smith's empire left Krzyzewski with a power base in the heart of the ACC and a national league of influence. Duke became the collegiate soul of the sport. The paranoia that comes with power began to set in as Krzyzewski insulated himself from all he surveyed. We never saw inside the walls he built around him, never cracked the veneer of a stone and glass house he constructed around his program. We saw the public face of a king fighting against those who would be king. We saw signs of a man tormented by success and by those who would not fall in line."

— Columnist Ed Hardin, in the Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record

"After 24 seasons, 10 Final Fours and three national titles at Duke, Krzyzewski is the game's most recognized and revered figure. Moreover, he is the game's most eloquent advocate — questioning recruiting rules, criticizing Atlantic Coast Conference expansion and lamenting the disconnect between the NCAA and NBA. College basketball, beset with flat television ratings and continued scandal, could ill afford to lose that voice. Nor could Duke. Not the basketball program, mind you. The university. Duke basketball without Krzyzewski? Like UCLA after John Wooden and North Carolina after Dean Smith, the Blue Devils would have fallen. How far and for how long?"

— Columnist David Teel, in the Newport News (Va.) Daily Press

"That Krzyzewski entertained an offer from the Lakers came as a surprise to many. His style would not seem to mesh with the stereotypical pampered athlete of today's NBA. But when someone dangles that much money in front of your face, ignoring it would be the minimum qualification for a strait jacket. Everyone deserves an opportunity to test his limits. Perhaps that's what Krzyzewski was thinking as he examined the opportunity in front of him.

"Ultimately, there should not have been as much apprehension as there was. Krzyzewski was not going to leave Duke, no matter how much money he was offered or how much of a challenge he sought. Krzyzewski is Duke, and Duke is Krzyzewski. It would have been like Colonel Sanders leaving KFC to try his hand at fine dining. With 24 years of service with the Blue Devils, Krzyzewski's ties were so great that not even the glitz of Hollywood could persuade him to break them. Now that he has turned down the Lakers, he is even more of a guaranteed Duke lifer."

— Columnist Hermann Wendorff, in the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer

"It was a shakedown worthy of a 'Sopranos' episode. Don Mike Krzyzewski, head of the all-powerful Tobacco Road family, consigliere David Falk and underboss Joe Alleva took Duke University's five-day-old president Richard Brodhead to the cleaners, and Brodhead still has no idea that a credit card is missing from the wallet he left in his slacks. Nor does he care. Don K's heist was so clean and so deceptive that even the bosses of college basketball's other families are unaware that his shakedown ultimately taxed all of their points. …

"It was a great score. It was old-school. Coach K never raised his voice or his hand, but he let his new president know exactly who runs things on Tobacco Road. He also sent a similar message to basketball recruits across the land: Coach K is the unquestioned king of amateur hoops. Check 'SportsCenter' and USA Today if you doubt it. Think about it. Coach K, without uttering a word or meeting face-to-face with owner Jerry Buss, had us all believing he might uproot his family and move to the West Coast for the privilege of coaching a young man who is scheduled to stand trial for rape this year. I feel stupid for falling for it. Brodhead shouldn't. He had no other choice."

— Columnist Jason Whitlock, in the Kansas City Star

"I was hoping Coach K would wind up in L.A. But I never thought for a moment he was leaving. Anyone who has known Krzyzewski for any length of time knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the man loves what he does for a living. He loves the setting he works in. He loves going to work every morning in his office just off the basketball court at Cameron Indoor Stadium. He enjoys being the best in his field at what he does. And he must know, while never professing so publicly, that what he does is necessary and on some level, very worthy. He is where he wants to be, doing exactly what he wants to do, with people he respects and often loves. So why leave? If you're over-the-moon happy doing what you're doing, why risk leaving that to do something you might not be so happy doing?"

— Columnist Michael Wilbon, in the Washington Post