Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Coach Whose Name You Can’t Spell

Folks who visit this blog know well my devotion to the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Green Bay Packers.  I’ve said often enough that my devotion to these two teams goes all the way back to the 1960’s.  That’s a damn long time. 

For 35 years, I’ve also been a devout fan of the team America loves to hate—the Duke Blue Devils.

The Great State of North Carolina is home to some of the best men’s college basketball teams in the country—the Tarheels, Wolfpack and Demon Deacons—but Duke, now there’s a team!

A list of some of the Duke players who have gone on to the NBA include Johnny Dawkins (1987), Mike Gminksi (1991), Christian Laettner (1991), Bobby Hurley (1994), Grant Hill (1995), Cherokee Parks (1996) and J. J. Reddick (2007).

Most everyone in North Carolina is a rabid Tarheels fan. I’m a “Dookie” and damn proud of it. That makes me a target of some fierce teasing from friends who simply cannot fathom why I would root for Duke. 

While there is no championship, no conference title or Gold Medal on the line, No. 5 Duke hits the hardwoods against The Red Storm of St. John’s in Madison Square Garden.  It’s the same venue where Coach K became the winningest coach in college basketball history.

On that night his mentor and friend, Bobby Knight, was calling the game for ESPN.  When the buzzer sounded and Duke had defeated Michigan State 74-69, Coach K walked over to the broadcast table and told Knight he loved him.  It was a remarkable moment when the two switched places in the NCAA record book.

The Garden is special to Coach K. “Kids dream, and coaches dream, of playing in this place…Just the way the court is lit, the sound, how the ball bounces, there are different sounds here. The Garden sounds different; the horn sounds different and it’s all good. Those are things that people recall when they think of their playing days, so it’s a great experience for us,” he said.

A win today against 13-5 “Johnnies” would bring his record to an astonishing 1000 wins.  Krzyzewski has led the Blue Devils to 4 NCAA Championships, 11 Final Fours, 12 ACC regular season titles and 13 ACC Tournament Championships.

No matter the outcome of the game today, Coach Mike Krzyzewski is a legend.  I think it’s fair to say his level of achievement is otherworldly. 


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