Duke Athletics held a press conference Thursday at Cameron Indoor Stadium for men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who announced Wednesday that the 2021-22 season will be his final year of coaching.
In 46 years as a head coach at Army West Point (1975-80) and Duke (1980-present), Krzyzewski amassed an NCAA-record 1,170 victories. In 41 seasons in Durham, he led Duke to five NCAA national championships – 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010 and 2015 – and 12 Final Fours.
Duke University President Vincent E. Price, Vice President and Director of Athletics Kevin White, and incoming Vice President and Director of Athletics Nina King all spoke about the legendary coach prior to him taking the podium. Members of the Duke athletics staff, invited guests and media were in attendance to honor a man who is a hall of famer and the winningest coach in college basketball.
“Days like today can be difficult to come up with the right words,” said Price. “To express what Mike Krzyzewski has been to Duke University, to college basketball, to our community. So, we let the numbers do the talking for us – 1,170 career wins, five national championships, 12 Final Fours, 15 ACC Tournament and 12 ACC regular season titles, six gold medals for the U.S. national team, 37 All-Americans. The list goes on and on, many of them never to be matched.”
White added that he only had one word for Coach K’s legacy – mind-boggling.
“It’s absolutely mind-boggling. A comparable run will never reoccur. You know, we throw around this ‘GOAT’ term – greatest of all time. For me, it seems a little thin today, actually seems inadequate in this particular instance. But Mike, you are the GOAT. You are absolutely the GOAT. Beyond the banners, hardware, titles, awards, honors, both domestically and globally, Mike’s greatest gift, in my opinion, has been his unabashed love and utter commitment to his players.”
King echoed much of the same sentiments of Price and White.
“What Coach Krzyzewski has done for Duke in 41 years and throughout his coaching tenure is absolutely unparalleled. He’s a legend and an icon, a man of integrity who has always done it the right way, teaching and mentoring so many over the course of his brilliant career.”
“I have had some amazing opportunities,” said Krzyzewski during his speech. “The very first opportunity – God was good, God was really good. He gave me my mom and dad. They were really good. What an opportunity and I have had so many opportunities. More than anybody that I can think. That was a great opportunity to grow up in the Krzyzewski family. Even though my mother with an eighth-grade education and my father with two years of high school, they had a belief in education and a belief in me. I didn’t know that at that time. I felt it every day of my life.
It is not just about opportunity, it is about someone believing in you. So, for me the opportunity to coach here – one of the great institutions in the world and be around not good people, but great people have made me, Mickie, and our family so much better.”
Before closing, Krzyzewski made it a point to recognize and thank his family for their continued support over the past 46 years.
“The biggest opportunity I have had in my life and the people that believe in me the most are my ladies – my wife and my three daughters have made me so much better. They have been there in those dark days and those dark nights. Those celebratory times too. They have always been there for me. Thank you! Thank you! This is not a day for thanking everybody as it is not over. But today it is a day to thank you all. I am a lucky guy.”
VINCENT PRICE’S OPENING REMARKS
“Good morning, you know days like today can be difficult to come up with the right words. To express what Mike Krzyzewski has been to Duke University, to college basketball, to our community. So, we let the numbers do the talking for us, 1,170 career wins, five national championships, 12 Final Fours, 15 ACC Tournament and 12 ACC regular season titles, six gold medals for the U.S. national team, 37 All-Americans. The list goes on and on, many of them never to be matched. Now, or in the future, except that Mike will give us one more season of Blue Devil basketball.
But perhaps the most important number is 15,054. That’s the number of days since Mike Krzyzewski was introduced as Duke’s head basketball coach on March 16, 1980. And for every one of those 15,054 days, and for the next 310 or so until the end of next season, Mike has been resolutely and zealously committed to Duke University, to our students, and his players, to the principles of integrity, fairness, and inclusion and above all to excellence. And for that reason, I am truly pleased to announce today that while Mike may turn over the whistle and the clipboard to Jon Scheyer next year, I’m thrilled that he will continue to serve Duke for many years to come as an ambassador for our university and an advisor and counselor to me and to my colleagues across campus and beyond. There will always be a place for Coach K at Duke. There will be many opportunities over the next year for the Duke community, and indeed the whole basketball world to show our appreciation and gratitude to Mike and to Mickie for their devotion to Duke, to family and to the highest ideals of service, generosity and compassion that they’ve shown us the past 15,054 days.”
KEVIN WHITE’S OPENING REMARKS
“Good morning everybody, I will be intentionally brief. Coach K’s legacy, I’ve said often, and I mean it from the bottom of my heart, is, the best word I’ve come up with is mind-boggling. It’s absolutely mind-boggling. A comparable run will never reoccur. You know, we throw around this ‘GOAT’ term – greatest of all time. For me, it seems a little thin today, actually seems inadequate in this particular instance. But Mike, you are the GOAT. You are absolutely the GOAT. Beyond the banners, hardware, titles, awards, honors, both domestically and globally, Mike’s greatest gift, in my opinion, has been his unabashed love and utter commitment to his players. Mike has been an esteemed professor, major professor, let me say, at Duke for some 41 years. Where in his curriculum has been constructed around endless life lessons and service to be sure – amazing, amazing life lessons and service.
There are no words to account for what will be 42 magical years. It’s well beyond anyone’s imagination to come up with the appropriate words as President [Vincent] Price has already indicated. But Mike’s tenure can only be described as the best ever in the history of sport by any measure. Given that, heartfelt congratulations to Coach K, Mickie, your beautiful family, and perhaps I will now refer to this group here, which they’re all here, as Team Krzyzewski, and it’s so, so great to have you all back in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Let me pivot to the 2021-22 season for just a second. Mike will have an amazing team, with which our iconic coach, in my view, will make a final, very deep run. That’s my prediction. We’ve got a great year ahead of us. I’m going to hold my comments regarding Jon [Scheyer] until tomorrow. However, I’m extremely excited, if not absolutely euphoric about future prospects. Finally, we heard from President Price, he is indeed a spectacular leader of all things Duke, and the Duke community already knows Nina King, incoming VP and AD. It has been an honor for me to be part of this transition with our brilliant leader and my successor, who never, ever flinches, and that would be Nina. More tomorrow relative to Jon. Again, huge congratulations Coach on all fronts. An amazing tenure, just amazing.”
NINA KING’S OPENING REMARKS
“Little did I know a couple of weeks ago we’d be gathered again here today. Although, this time to express our deepest gratitude and immense appreciation for Duke’s iconic coach Mike Krzyzewski. President [Vincent] Price and Kevin White said it well so I’ll be brief. What Coach Krzyzewski has done for Duke in 41 years and throughout his coaching tenure is absolutely unparalleled. He’s a legend and an icon, a man of integrity who has always done it the right way, teaching and mentoring so many over the course of his brilliant career. As I think about all of the incredibly impressive numbers that have been talked about in terms of wins, championships, etcetera, there is another important number as well. The thousands of people that Coach has corresponded with over the years. People in moments of need, fans celebrating a wedding, children battling heartbreaking disease and so many others. Never once did he seek attention or thanks for participating in these moments.
Coach Krzyzewski’s generosity has impacted literally thousands of individuals on a deeply personal level. So impressive. His impact, along with the countless contributions of his amazing wife Mickie and the entire Krzyzewski family is felt far and wide, not only through the Duke community but around the world. Mike Krzyzewski has created an inspirational legacy and it’s not over yet. While we look forward to introducing our next head coach Jon Scheyer tomorrow we are thrilled to be able to celebrate Coach Krzyzewski, Mickie, Debbie, Lindy, Jamie and their families today and this entire coming year. Year 42 will no doubt be incredible, and I couldn’t be more excited to watch Coach [K] lead our iconic Duke men’s basketball program for one more season. I look forward to growing our personal relationship over this coming year. Coach, thank you for everything you’ve done for this great university. You’ve done it with class and with grace and we could not be more proud.”
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI OPENING REMARKS
“Thanks. Listening to you guys and hearing the music. Wow, I miss that music. I miss people on the court. I miss Cameron. I am so excited about this upcoming year. A couple of our guys are in the audience. We had a zoom yesterday and you know I am excited to coach you guys. I am so proud of being the coach at Duke University. It is a little bit tough. My AD, my friend, Kevin White, comes up to me and calls you a goat. I was glad he didn’t call me a donkey. It is not about having a run next year, it is about having a finish. Just wanted to make sure we are on the same wavelength.
Thank you all for being here. So many important people in the audience. I will tell you the most important people are right here in front of me. My family, my daughters, their husbands and my 10 amazing grandchildren. How lucky are we that we had this for most of the time. Whenever they were born, we have had them right here with us. That has helped us immensely.
Really what has happened – we have been family. With all my guys – the guys who have been on my staff. With Jon [Scheyer] taking over after this year. He will be incredible. Chris [Carrawell], Nolan [Smith] and all my former players who have come back to help coach. It has been a family atmosphere. I just wanted to tell you that I am a very lucky guy. I mean a really lucky guy.
When I was 16 as a junior in high school at Weber High School in Chicago. I had a coach and I had a teacher – Coach [Al] Ostrowski and Father [Francis] Rog. They had such an impact on me that I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to be a coach and I wanted to be a teacher and that’s what I have been.
I have had some amazing opportunities. The very first opportunity – God was good, God was really good. He gave me my mom and dad. They were really good. What an opportunity and I have had so many opportunities. More than anybody that I can think. That was a great opportunity to grow up in the Krzyzewski family. Even though my mother with an eighth-grade education and my father with two years of high school, they had a belief in education and a belief in me. I didn’t know that at that time. I felt it every day of my life.
So, I was presented with the first opportunity to go to West Point. I wouldn’t have taken it without their belief. I was afraid and I was afraid while I was there, but their belief was always behind me. Most of us get a certain number of opportunities, some of us get more than others. The best opportunities are the opportunities that are backed up with belief. My mom told me when I was in high school at Weber, she said ‘Michael’, whenever she had something important it was Michael. ‘Michael, always be with good people’ and I followed her advice my whole life. So, when I was at West Point, how lucky can you get. I am at the greatest leadership school in the world, the greatest character-building school in the world and I am playing for one of the greatest coaches in the world in Bob Knight. Boom, boom, boom. Those aren’t punches that knock you out. Those are punches that give you leadership, character, the knowledge of playing for a brilliant, brilliant coach.
How lucky can you get? I can get a lot more lucky. I get to serve in the Army. After I do my service, Coach Knight gives me an opportunity to go to Indiana and go to graduate school. I’m there for one year. They have one of the greatest teams of all time. I learned there and then at 28 – you think [Jon] Scheyer is young, he’s 33. I was 28. Although, more handsome at that time in my life, in my opinion Marcelle [Scheyer], not yours. The people at West Point believed in me. I got that opportunity and as a result turned around a 7-44 program into a 73-59 program. And then you get lucky again and interview for the Duke job. The guy who had the most belief in me was Tom Butters. He really believed in me and he believed in me multiple times and he gave me this opportunity. After three years most people wanted that opportunity to go to someone else. I guess that’s a nice way of saying they wanted to get rid of me, but not the guy who believed in me. Not the guy who believed in me. My opportunities were followed with belief. The best, the very best. And we started all of this, all of this. In the mid-90s I get extremely sick physically, emotionally and mentally and was going to get out of coaching. He believed in me again. But there was another guy who believed in me. His name was Keith Brodie. He was my second [Duke] President and I’ve had great presidents. Keith Brodie, in my 41 years here, was the best person I’ve ever known. And during that time in his presidency he believed in me, and he should, we won a couple championships. But he believed in me in one of my darkest hours, for those months of rehabbing and getting better, he believed in me every day. Another opportunity I wouldn’t have taken advantage of it without belief, strong belief.
Throughout the years it was a little bit easier to believe in me – championships. I’m glad a lot of the recruits believed in me because they made me a heck of a lot better coach. Some of the great players in the history of college basketball played right here, played right here. Every day I had an opportunity to be with the best and I found that relationship I had with the reverse of the relationship I had with Coach [Al] Ostrowski and Father [Francis] Rog. Now they believed in me. Wow. What a life. I then get an opportunity to coach the United States team, 11 years. Jerry Colangelo – he said ‘I want you, you’re a college coach, and I want you to coach the national team.’ I jumped at it. And in our first competition we lost. We didn’t know what we were doing yet. And Greece beat us in the World Championships in Tokyo in 2006, the worst day of my life in coaching. The worst day. I wanted to end it, that’s it. And I went up to Jerry and I said ‘I’m sorry.’ He said ‘We’ll get this done. I believe in you’.
Your darkest hours. It is not just about opportunity, it is about someone believing in you. 77 games later, three Olympic gold medals and two world championships – that belief turned into this. So, for me the opportunity to coach here – one of the great institutions in the world and be around not good people, but great people have made me, Mickie, and our family so much better. You might ask, ‘why are you doing this right now?’ Look, this is not about health. Mickie and I, whether we look it, she does, whether I look healthy, I am. It is not about COVID or saying that year was so bad. It is not about that. It is certainly not about what is going on in college basketball – boy the game is changing alright. I have been in it for 46 years and you mean the game has never changed. The progression of the game. We have always had to adapt. To the changes in culture, the changes in rules. The changes in the world. We are going through one right now. That is not the reason. Those aren’t the reasons. Those would be bad reasons, especially the health one. The reason we are doing this is because Mickie and I have decided the journey is going to be over in a year and we are going to go after it as hard as we possibly can. Then, we are going to be a part of Duke’s continuing journey, like President Price said, for as long as we are around.
The last thing I would like to say before answering any questions if you have any. The biggest opportunity I have had in my life and the people that believe in me the most are my ladies – my wife and my three daughters have made me so much better. They have been there in those dark days and those dark nights. Those celebratory times too. They have always been there for me. Thank you! Thank you! This is not a day for thanking everybody as it is not over. But today it is a day to thank you all. I am a lucky guy. We are going to go for it as much as possible and as much as we can this year and we are going to try to turn this place into what it is supposed to be and then we will be able to walk away to another part of what we are doing. Thank you all for being here.”
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI Q&A SESSION WITH MEDIA
On what he anticipates his role being at Duke and in college basketball after his retirement:
“I’m going to run a motion offense – making reads, being adaptable. What do you need to do? To me, one of the first things is going to be what does Duke need from me in that new role. I will always be connected with the game. Actually, I’m supposed to be on an AD HOC committee conference call right now. Don’t worry – we’re okay, I told them I wasn’t going to be there. We’ve met for the last seven months every week with some of the top coaches. Craig Robinson – executive director of the NABC, Dan Gavitt, a lot of NCAA people, and [we’re] trying to figure out the game. There’s a lot that needs to be figured out.
I’ll give you one quick example. In the summer, you can work with Joey [Baker], Wendell [Moore Jr.], Keenan [Worthington] and Michael [Savarino] eight hours a week – four for strength training and agility, and four on the court. We tried to get something – the ACC has sponsored it – to get four more hours. A number of the coaches have never even met most of their team. We got a unanimous vote from all the kids who played in the ACC to add four more. It went to another committee and they knocked it to two, and I just found out before this that they didn’t approve it. Somebody needs help. They didn’t see it as an opportunity to improve, and they didn’t hear from the people who believe in the kids playing the game that this would be good for their improvement. If I could help in that change, I would love to help out. I still get very upset about those things. I care about the game. I’ve lived the game and we need to take care of the game.”
On if he has contemplated the emotions of coaching next season while remaining focused on the team winning:
“I’m really focused – totally. We’ve been planning. We’re getting ready to go. Our freshmen come in Saturday and Sunday. They get going in summer school. I’m in a deep dive with them. Whatever happens, we’ll react to it. I’m not going to be anticipatory about any events or anything like that. I want to coach my team. I want to give them 100 percent. Because of this, I won’t be on the road recruiting like I would normally, so I could spend more time with them. I want this to be as good of a basketball team as we’ve had in my 46 years. That’s the main thing I’m focused on. Anything else, let’s react to it.”
On the timeline for him and his family before reaching this decision:
“Mickie [Krzyzewski] and I are in our 70’s, so it’s not like it’s the first time we’ve talked about it. We talked about this for a few years. We always talk to our daughters about it. We have a family meeting and you address it. We’ve looked at this for a couple of years, but not to make that decision. After COVID and this season – this was the hardest year for a lot of people. You didn’t want to make a kneejerk reaction for that, and we didn’t. We met six or eight weeks ago. First of all, Mickie and I got away and we talked about it. We came to the agreement that we really wanted to coach this year, but that this would be the last year. Then, we met with our daughters, I met with my guys – Jon [Scheyer], Nolan [Smith] and Chris [Carrawell] – and talked to a couple people about that.
When you make a decision, there’s an implementation. How do you implement it? The decision that was made, I talked to President [Vincent] Price and Kevin [White] – how do you do this? I really believe the way we’re doing it is terrific. I’m 100 percent happy and sure that what we’re doing is the only thing you could do. I appreciate everyone’s cooperation at the university, making the decision of how we should go forward. We’ve worked as a team the entire time I’ve been here. Working as a team and developing this plan, it makes us a better team. It makes us an even better team.”
On what aspects of the program he would like to see carried over into the next era of Duke basketball:
“I’m not going to change what I do this year. Neither will those guys – my staff. We’re going to go after it like we normally go after it. That’ll be the ninth year that Jon [Scheyer] is here. Nolan [Smith], Chris [Carrawell] – they’ve played here, they’ve been here. They understand the core values and everything that we do, and then Jon will be able to put his own personal stuff on it. He’s not going to say, ‘What did Coach K do?’ They don’t do that now. I don’t have complete control over my practices now. I’ll say, ‘I thought we were supposed to do this,’ and they would respond, ‘Coach we think that this would be better.’ I’m kidding a little bit about that, but not completely. I’ve listened to them all the time, so we’re just going to keep doing that and then try to maintain the level of excellence and the pursuit of excellence that our program has done not just for the four decades I’ve been here, but we’ve had a great tradition here that started especially with Coach [Vic] Bubas.”
On what he’s most proud of over the last 41 years at Duke:
“The thing I’m most proud of is right there – what a family. I think you take that into a program. A great picture for me would be to get all my guys, my former players, in one place where I could just say, ‘Okay, that’s good.’ As a result, we don’t live our lives through our grandkids or our daughters, but we’re part of their lives. How lucky are we that we’re also able to do that with Jon [Scheyer], Chris [Carrawell], Nolan [Smith], Nate [James], Wojo [Steve Wojciechowski], Shane [Battier], Grant [Hill], Jason [Williams] and all of them? What a life. You have this going all the time, and that’s where these guys have come up with The Brotherhood. That’s an extension of what we’ve done as a family. That’s what I’m most proud of. That’ll last well beyond next season. That’ll last forever for me and for Mickie, so that’s the coolest thing.”
On what has changed the most about his coaching over the course of his career:
“By far, more flexibility and not micromanaging. That kind of changed in the mid-90s. Listening more. To be quite frank with you, I learned that from my wife and my daughters. The wisdom of listening, showing emotion and getting different perspectives – not just the perspective of a player or coach, but sometimes another person’s perspective. I’ve relied on them that way. Even when I didn’t want to hear it, they’ve made me want to hear it. They’ve hammered in humility too. I can remember as they were growing up, there used to be time when you sat and had a family dinner. At times, you won a national championship or played in a big one, and I’d come home and you’ve got a dance recital, you’ve got this ‘what Jane said about me, could you believe that?’ Anyway, I would say, ‘What about me?’ The word I want to say is, I was taught balance. Whatever you do, when you love in life, you go off the deep end and only love that, and forget about whatever else. I’ve learned balance, and I didn’t have it all the time, to be quite frank with you.”
On why he believes in Jon Scheyer as the next head coach of Duke men’s basketball:
“You can look at the 2010 national championship. I believed in him and Nolan [Smith] running our team. Any of the guys who work for me, they were my former captains. They all had great resumes, and I tell all of them when they come on, ‘I only want you here if you want to be a head coach.’ What I’ve learned is to give them all these responsibilities where they didn’t have different things – they do everything. Jon’s done everything, and in the last few years, we’ve taken it up to another level. He’s one of the smartest coaches in the country, to be quite frank with you. Nobody knows that as well as I do, and Chris [Carrawell] and Nolan know it. The players know it. It’s ironic – he’s 33, I was 33 when I was [hired] here. My main wish for him is not to replicate my first three years. That wouldn’t be good. Although, Nina [King], maybe it’d be a time for great belief.”
On how he knew that this was the right time to announce his decision:
“I always felt that you would know when to stop if you weren’t ready to do all the things necessary to do what you do. You have to do a lot of things before you do what you do. That’s never been a question. I’m older, and we’ve both felt that I’m not sure I’m ready to prepare – she can tell you how much I’ve watched tape. I’m still watching tape. I’m watching tape of some pro teams now to figure out. I want to use some of the things that I have to prepare for [and spend] that time with [my family]. I want to see Quin [Frasher’s] games. I want to see John David [Spatola] win in Ninja. I want to see [Rem] hit a last-second shot to win. I want to be able to do that and live a little bit through them. That’s how I want to spend the rest of my time, and doing whatever else I have to do. I’m not ready to do all that.
In recruiting, it’d be tough to recruit for next year if I’m not coaching the kids. That’s not fair to a kid that you would be recruiting, saying ‘I think I’m going to coach,’ and then at the end of the year say you’re not coaching. That’s part of it. That doesn’t mean I hate recruiting. I just want to use that time better. I want to allocate that time better in my life.”
On what role his coaching tree plays in his legacy at Duke:
“I’ll let someone else determine that. For me, I’m proud of not just guys who have become coaches, but guys who have become great pro’s – but not just in basketball. A lot of guys – you see what [Jayson] Tatum is doing, you still see what Grant Hill and all those guys are doing. But it’s the other guys who are in business. I just take a lot of pride in the fact that I’ve been lucky that part of becoming a really outstanding player is for a player to understand balance. They should not only become better players, they should become better people here. They should understand the value of academics.
Again, I’ve been really lucky, for 41 years, I have Duke helping teach this. Every kid here is talented. When they don’t play here, they’re out there. Wherever they walk, they’re next to somebody who has talent. They’re next to every gender, every race, every religion, every nationality. They’re exposed to inclusion, they’re exposed to diversity, they’re exposed to talent, and that’s helped me keep them balanced. Coaching at West Point and Duke – wow. That’s helped me in that regard.”
On what he learned that helped him adjust to the changes in college basketball over the last 41 years:
“I’ve learned from my players. I’m 74. Wendell [Moore Jr.] is not 20 yet – you’re a young guy. Joey [Baker], you’re a little bit older. I’m over 50 years older than these guys. They’re always the same age, I keep getting older. It’s up to me. How am I going to communicate with them? I’ve learned from them. I learned current music, current culture, some phrases. I’ve got to keep my shoe game up. Some of my Nike stuff has got to be a little bit tighter than my body would probably want. As a result, they see me listening to them or trying to be them, joking.
Humor has been a big thing, goofing around, and that’s helped me adjust. That’s helped me adapt. I’ve said this many times – for me, I’ve adapted how I’ve communicated and then how we play, but I do not adapt the values of our program that we teach them. You just have to teach them where they would receive it, but then I have to be able for them to listen and to understand. Know your audience, know your team, know who you’re leading, and then figure out how to lead them, but never change from the principles of integrity, courage, respect, selfless service, loyalty, trust and duty. Those never die. But then how you get those across, and the timeframe that you have to get them across, that’s the thing that’s important.”