CultureFriday 03.11.22

The End of the Coach K Era

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Mike Krzyzewski, the Hall of Fame coach of Duke University’s men’s college basketball team, is retiring at the end of this season after 42 years leading the Blue Devils. “Coach K” will finish his career as quite possibly the greatest coach in the history of the sport. He’s won more games than anyone else, has led Duke to 12 Final Fours and five national titles, and been named Naismith Coach of the Year three times (to top it all off, he’s also guided the USA Basketball Men’s National Team to three consecutive Olympic gold medals).

But even though Krzyzewski may be the best ever at his job, he is also quite possibly the most disliked. Coach K is well-known for berating players on both sides of the ball, reporters at the student newspaper (if he doesn’t like what they’ve written), and Duke fans (if he doesn’t care for how they’re cheering). His program is imbued with an elitism and a holier-than-thou attitude that Krzyzewski often rubs in people’s faces. He’s coached an enormous number of despised players over the years who have been accused of dirty play but present themselves as saintly. And Coach K has often been criticized for Duke’s preponderance of white players, lack of diversity, and unwillingness to recruit in inner cities.

Coach K’s retirement party is just about over, so LZ and Will ask each other: is it safe to dislike him again?

The Long Game