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‘It’s Not About Me’: Coach K Focuses On His Players When Everyone Wanted It To Be About Him

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NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 02: Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils walks toward the court prior to their game against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Final Four at Caesars Superdome on April 2, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Lance King/Getty Images

NEW ORLEANS — As Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski walked off the floor of the Superdome Saturday night, the last time he would ever walk off of a basketball court as head coach, you knew that all the talk would be centered around Coach K’s career.

47 years, 1,202 wins, 13 trips to the Final four, and five national championships. How could the conversation not be centered around the end of a career that is arguably the greatest of all time?

But that wasn’t what Krzyzewski wanted. For Coach K, it was never about his legacy, or about celebrating his career when he announced his intention to step away after the 2021-2022 college basketball season. It was about being a teacher of men, guiding his players through the trials and tribulations of a college basketball season, hopefully learning a few lessons along the way.

After the loss, Krzyzewski was asked multiple times to reflect on his career, what his emotions were as he walked off the court for the final time — but he wouldn’t give in. For Coach K, that will come at a later date.

“It’s not about me,” Krzyzewski said when asked about his emotions, “especially right now. As a coach, I’m just concerned about these guys. I mean, they’re already crying on the court. And I mean, that’s the only thing you can think about.”

“And then going into the locker room, I’ve said my entire career — or when I knew what the hell I was doing — that I wanted my seasons to end where my team was either crying tears of joy or tears of sorrow, because then you knew you gave everything,” he continued. “And I had a locker room filled with guys who were crying. And it’s a beautiful sight. It’s not the sight that I would want. I’d want the other. But it’s a sight that I really respect and makes me understand just how good this group was.”

For 42 years, Krzyzewski was the face of Duke University, turning a struggling program into the blue blood it is today. He did so by recruiting the best. Whether they were one-and-done’s or four-year players, each group was brought to Duke by Coach K for a reason.

“For these guys, they’ve been a joy,” Krzyzewski said when asked to reflect on his last squad. “We made our announcement it would be our last year — I told my wife, Mickie, look, we’re going for it. And I’m going to put everything into it. And I got a group, they’re young, but I think they’ve got a chance. And I was right about that. So every day — we had a few bumps in the road, but they won 32 games. And they turned it around in March where they’ve been beautiful young men to coach. I could not ask for more.”

Over the coming days and weeks, hundreds of articles will be written about Coach K’s career, and radio hosts will discuss his legacy ad nauseam. But on Saturday, after a crushing defeat and the end of his coaching career, Coach K made it about his players. The guys who made his career possible.

“At some time,” Krzyzewski said when asked if he had a message for his players. “Let’s deal with tonight and the season. And obviously we’re concerned about all their futures and making sure that we give them good guidance and advice and support in how we move forward.”

“And they know that I’ll always be with them,” he continued. “So, they know that. And we’ll be able to move on as a program. But my relationships with them will always be there. Look, these guys are really good. They weren’t good, they were really good. And they’ve been a joy. They’ve been a joy.”

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to sports@dailywire.com.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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