Born Michael Krzyzewski, the esteemed coach and son of Polish immigrants has been affectionately known by the nickname Coach K for decades. While even casual basketball fans know Coach K as the long time successful coach of the Duke University Blue Devils a much smaller segment of the population realizes that Coach K was driven and molded from an early age to live an impactful life that has positively affects thousands of people.
A graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point the Chicago native has the pedigree of a man that knows the intrinsic value of accountability. In addition to the full time responsibilities that were involved in training to become an officer in the Army at West Point Mike Krzyzewski spent a significant amount of his time on the hardwood playing for a young Bob Knight who happened to coach Krzyzewski during his stint at Army. Bob Knight would go on to become a legendary coach at Indiana University and eventually secured the position of holding the record for the most wins all time.
After serving as captain of the Army basketball squad during his senior season Mike spent five years after his 1969 graduation fulfilling a duty to his country by serving in the military. A calling to lead and positively influence the lives of young men took Coach K to Bloomington, Indiana where he dutifully served as an assistant coach for and was reunited with his former collegiate coach Bobby Knight. By 1975 when Knight and Coach K were once again on the same court (this time at Indiana) Knight had already established himself as a premier coach on a national stage. The squads that Knight sent out on the court during the 1974-1975 season and the 1975-1976 season went a collective 63-1 for an unfathomable 98.4 winning percentage.
After just one year of successful tutelage from Bob Knight at Indiana, Coach K took accepted his first college head coaching position which just happened to be at his old stomping grounds in West Point, New York. Five successful seasons at Army is all that it took to earn an opportunity to take over a Duke basketball program in 1980 that competes in consistently the toughest basketball conference in the country, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
In addition to his role of coaching Olympic gold medal winning basketball teams Coach K is known the world over for the model job he has done in his nearly thirty seasons as the head basketball coach at Duke University. His success at Duke has been so astounding that the laundry list of accomplishments is almost beyond the scope of this article. Some of the very many highlights include: 24 NCAA tournament appearances in the last 25 years, 11 conference championships in the highly competitive ACC, 10 final four appearances, three national championships, numerous coach of the year awards, and a 2001 induction into the basketball hall of fame.
Regardless of ones feelings about Duke University it seems unarguable to say that Coach K is tremendously qualified to instill impressionable young men with discipline, leadership, and character. The success enjoyed by Coach K as well as his impressive personal resume make one of the most respected men not just in basketball history but in all of sports.