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  1. #1

    Coach K Stories!

    Know any good Coach K stories, 1st hand or reliably 2nd hand? Put them here!

    Coach K is a very interesting person, and a forceful leader who has interacted with thousands of people over the course of his life.

    Give the current live sports doldrums, I hope that sharing our and others’ experiences interacting with Coach K may be an entertaining and informative diversion.

    Our collection of stories does not need to be hagiography – a life of a saint. While I and so many others have the highest respect and admiration for Coach K, we of course affirm his humanity.

    I will get the ball rolling by recounting three stories I heard firsthand from a former Duke PG. Let’s call him PGF – Point Guard Friend. We were attending a leadership conference at Duke. When I entered the conference room early to find my place, I saw the name of the former Duke PG next to mine. Hopes rising, I looked at the workshop instructor – she smiled and nodded. She knew I loved Duke basketball and was kind enough to seat me next to PGF.

    PGF is a great person, and I was fortunate to be able to spend some time with him. The only sour note in this relationship is that PGF is a “slightly better” athlete than me. We played golf and…life is just not fair.

    As we were playing, I asked PGF, is Coach K the real deal? He said, Oh yeah! Okay, stories please!

    1st Story: PGF was, of course, a phenom in HS, and was slotted to start at PG. He was not lacking in confidence. In the team’s first full-on scrimmage, PGF could not score a point and could barely complete a pass. He was frustrated and embarrassed. Self-doubts crept in. He tried to slink off the court. A senior player came over to PGF, put his arm around his shoulder and told him, “Coach told us to shut you down, so that you learn right away – you are nothing on your own. Your job is to make us all better.”

    Some years later, I had the opportunity to confirm this story with the senior player. He remembered the story immediately and laughed. He said that he and the team had to repeat the message a couple more times.

    2nd Story: PGF was bringing up the ball to half-court. Coach K shouted to him to stop where he was – even though he had not crossed half-court. [If memory serves, this may have been an exhibition game.] PGF stopped in place but kept dribbling. Evidently, some of the Crazies were yelling an obscene, disrespectful chant directed at an opponent. While Coach was chewing out the Crazies, PGF looked desperately at the referee, who smiled and just kept counting, way beyond ten. The chanting stopped, and the ref signaled to PGF to proceed.

    3rd Story: With PGF at point, the team won a couple of their first games. Things were going well, or so PGF thought. Then they lost a game. In the post-game “meeting,” Coach K blistered the team with helpful hints such as you guys should be ashamed of yourselves, you shouldn’t be wearing Duke jerseys, you were an embarrassment, and so on. PGF was stunned and at first angry. But as he reflected on his own performance and that of his teammates, he had to acknowledge that Coach was right – they played poorly, and certainly not as well as they could and should have played. PGF vowed to himself to play much better.

    The team won another game. Then they lost a game. PGF dreaded going back to that cramped room to be blistered again by K. PGF said he put on his emotional asbestos armor to prepare.

    K entered the room, subdued. “Guys, do you remember what I told you after our first loss?” PGF vaguely remembered. :-) K went on, “What I said to you, you should say to me tonight. You played really well – you played hard, smart and together. You were outcoached. I’m the Head Coach. Please forgive me. I vow that I will never let that happen again.” K left the room.

    I asked PGF what impact Coach’s statement had on him, and he said, “That was when Coach became my leader.”

    I also asked PGF, suppose K had given you and your teammates the same blistering critique as he had after the first loss. PGF said that he would have been angry and confused, because he felt that he and his mates had responded to the first critique and had played in this game about as hard and well as they could.

    What was clear is that Coach K’s post-game responses weren’t psychological ploys – they were accurate, honest and heartfelt feedback.

    I’m eager to hear your stories!
    “I love it. Coach, when we came here, we had a three-hour meeting about the core values. If you really represent the core values, it means diving on the floor, sacrificing your body for your teammates, no matter how much you’re up by or how much you’re down by, always playing hard.” -- Zion

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Honolulu
    When I was a junior (or maybe a rising senior?) in high school, I had a heart condition that required a procedure. While the procedure itself is not uncommon, according to my cardiologist in Buffalo there were only two doctors in the US who had performed it for my specific condition on multiple occasions, one at the Cleveland Clinic and one at Duke. Of course, I picked the Duke doctor.

    The day after my procedure, and before I was discharged, my mom and aunt went to Northgate because Coach K was doing a book signing for Leading with the Heart. When Coach K was signing the book for me, they told him why we were in town. Apparently (I consider my mom and aunt to be reliable sources), Coach K asked them if I would still be in the hospital the next day because he would visit me if the answer were yes. Unfortunately, I was to be discharged that same day, so it didn't work out. Nevertheless, I've always thought it was pretty amazing that he sincerely made that offer.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Undisclosed
    I vaguely remember a story Jay Bilas told — will probably get some details wrong:

    At a practice early freshman year, Bilas was defending and Dawkins scored. K blew the whistle, and got into Bilas’ face about letting Dawkins score. K blew the whistle; the offense ran the same play; Johnny scored again.

    K was furious, and got way up in Bilas’ face. K made it clear that Bilas was not to let Johnny score.

    K blows the whistle; offense runs the same play; Bilas bear-hugs Dawkins when he’s driving and throws him to the ground before he can get a shot off.

    K comes running over to Bilas, sticks a finger in Jay’s chest, and yells — “THAT’S what I’m talking about!”

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Durham, NC
    My dad was a regular at the games, but eventually, health reasons kept him from going anymore. He had to have surgery, someone apparently contacted Coach K. He sent a letter and he called my dad personally to see how he was doing and wish him the best. We had never met him before - he did this for a total stranger who was a Duke grad and fan.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Outside Philly
    I don't have any heart-warming K stories, just the experience of being a student on campus and running into him randomly. Of course, the pre-UNC ritual of addressing the students was always really fun.

    The years I was there he had usually been in the wine a little bit and, at least two of the years, was scolded by Mickie for starting to cuss during the speech to the students. I like to think it was when he was telling the crazies to behave themselves!

    One year he went on a side tangent about how well he was doing financially.

    I thought it was all very funny and humanized him in a way I at least appreciated.

    He liked to play racquetball in the gym while I was there so you also might run into him in his army-era short sweat shorts on his way to, from a game sometimes.

    I don't know, little stuff but made living on a smaller campus fun.

  6. #6
    Attended Duke Basketball camp about 15 years go. Upon the completion of camp, I'm waiting in the airport to go back home....there had been a terrible storm in Durham and all flights were canceled for the rest of the evening.

    Duke staff came and picked me up from the airport, and I was invited to some type of end of year basketball banquet atop the Washington Duke Inn. I sat at a table of some staff and next to Mike Schrage who at the time was the Director of Basketball ops.

    In one of Coach K's speeches during the night, he acknowledged they had a new addition to the coaching staff (me) - it was a cool moment and made me adore K even further. I'll never forget it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Mount Kisco, NY
    Here's my most recent, favorite Coach K story:

    "I have been trying to find eloquent words to explain my thoughts regarding the recent acts of injustice in our country, but I cannot be eloquent about this. I am too emotional. I am angry! I am frustrated! I am disgusted and frankly, I am scared.

    No matter how much I love my current and former players and their families, I cannot feel the depth of what they are feeling right now. I have never experienced what it is like to be a black man in America. So, I find myself asking questions: What is happening to us? When will we realize we are on the same team and that everyone on that team is important? When will we have each other's back? When will we insist on justice and equality for everyone? What can I do?

    I want to help find the answers to these questions, but before we can get answers, we have to understand at a new level. And to understand, we must listen. Listen and not judge. We need to stand up for what is right, and we must no longer tolerate racism and social injustices in our country."

    Mike Krzyzewski, 6/1/20

  8. #8

    Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Dat View Post
    Here's my most recent, favorite Coach K story:

    "I have been trying to find eloquent words to explain my thoughts regarding the recent acts of injustice in our country, but I cannot be eloquent about this. I am too emotional. I am angry! I am frustrated! I am disgusted and frankly, I am scared.

    No matter how much I love my current and former players and their families, I cannot feel the depth of what they are feeling right now. I have never experienced what it is like to be a black man in America. So, I find myself asking questions: What is happening to us? When will we realize we are on the same team and that everyone on that team is important? When will we have each other's back? When will we insist on justice and equality for everyone? What can I do?

    I want to help find the answers to these questions, but before we can get answers, we have to understand at a new level. And to understand, we must listen. Listen and not judge. We need to stand up for what is right, and we must no longer tolerate racism and social injustices in our country."

    Mike Krzyzewski, 6/1/20
    Thank you, Billy Dat. This is my new favorite Coach K story as well.
    “I love it. Coach, when we came here, we had a three-hour meeting about the core values. If you really represent the core values, it means diving on the floor, sacrificing your body for your teammates, no matter how much you’re up by or how much you’re down by, always playing hard.” -- Zion

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Sarasota, Florida
    i cannot imagine what possessed Officer Chauvin to behave as he did, and, equally, the other three to stand by and do nothing. Coach K speaks for the overwhelming majority in his statement, and he has done more than most to bring about the kind of change in world view that our country needs. I don't have anything comparable to offer by way of a quote or story. Coach arrived at Duke long after i finished as a student, and i've not lived near Durham since. However, i was on campus during part of the summer of 1988, and I walked up to K one evening while a camp of some sort was going on in Cameron. After he got over his initial reaction of, "Oh, boy, here comes somebody else who wants something," he was quite friendly and we chatted for ten minutes. I told him that as a former student who had so much enjoyed the best of Bubas, he complemented Coach Bubas and spoke of how the general public had no idea how difficult recruiting is. (And i doubt it's gotten easier in the last 32 years). He mentioned that he probably could have had several players whose names he said i would recognize if he mentioned them, but he deliberately did not recruit them, or dropped recruitment, because of character/attitude/entourage factors. I was sympathetic and said something like, "Yeah, it must be really difficult to go after these teenagers and beg them to accept an astounding and life changing opportunity." He looked at me steadily for a few moments and said, "I don't beg."
    And, as Robert Blake's character used to sum up on a long ago TV cop series called Baretta, "Dat's the name of dat tune."

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Outside Philly
    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Dat View Post
    Here's my most recent, favorite Coach K story:

    "I have been trying to find eloquent words to explain my thoughts regarding the recent acts of injustice in our country, but I cannot be eloquent about this. I am too emotional. I am angry! I am frustrated! I am disgusted and frankly, I am scared.

    No matter how much I love my current and former players and their families, I cannot feel the depth of what they are feeling right now. I have never experienced what it is like to be a black man in America. So, I find myself asking questions: What is happening to us? When will we realize we are on the same team and that everyone on that team is important? When will we have each other's back? When will we insist on justice and equality for everyone? What can I do?

    I want to help find the answers to these questions, but before we can get answers, we have to understand at a new level. And to understand, we must listen. Listen and not judge. We need to stand up for what is right, and we must no longer tolerate racism and social injustices in our country."

    Mike Krzyzewski, 6/1/20
    Wonder if anyone will tell K to shut up and dribble, er, coach.

    I would not recommend it.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Winston Salem, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Dat View Post
    Here's my most recent, favorite Coach K story:

    "I have been trying to find eloquent words to explain my thoughts regarding the recent acts of injustice in our country, but I cannot be eloquent about this. I am too emotional. I am angry! I am frustrated! I am disgusted and frankly, I am scared.

    No matter how much I love my current and former players and their families, I cannot feel the depth of what they are feeling right now. I have never experienced what it is like to be a black man in America. So, I find myself asking questions: What is happening to us? When will we realize we are on the same team and that everyone on that team is important? When will we have each other's back? When will we insist on justice and equality for everyone? What can I do?

    I want to help find the answers to these questions, but before we can get answers, we have to understand at a new level. And to understand, we must listen. Listen and not judge. We need to stand up for what is right, and we must no longer tolerate racism and social injustices in our country."

    Mike Krzyzewski, 6/1/20
    Thanks BillyDat. Like Coach K, I'm a white man and I have no idea what a black person goes through daily. I pray ever day for the racial divide to narrow and one day it will because of people like Coach K.

    I wish I had a story to tell about our GOAT coach but I don't. I've only met him once and that was at a charity golf tournament. He was most gracious and I was impressed.

    GoDuke.

  12. #12
    On February 10, 1991 Duke beat LSU with Shaquille O'Neal 88-70. As a Duke grad living in the New Orleans area, I saved an article in which LSU's Coach Dale Brown was very complimentary about the atmosphere and experience of his team playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium. I have never met Coach K, but toward the end of the season, I sent the article to Coach K, thanking him for a great season, saying something to the effect that this was the most fun Duke team I had ever watched, and wishing him and the team the best of luck in the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

    I never expected a reply from Coach K, and unfortunately on March 10, 1991 UNC blew out Duke 96-74 in the ACC Tournament.

    On March 11,1991, while preparing for the NCAA Tournament which would begin three days later, Coach K took the time to write me the following thank-you letter: "Dear Jim: Thank you very much for the article containing Dale Brown's comments about Cameron Indoor Stadium. We played extremely well against LSU and were fortunate to beat them. Our crowd really helped! The students in Cameron Indoor Stadium create an unbelievable environment for us. We are fortunate indeed to have the nation's best sixth man supporting us. Take care, and thank you for your kind comments about our team and your continued support."

    Duke went on to win its first National Championship. That letter is proudly framed, along with a picture of the 1991 National Championship team, and is one of my most prized possessions.

  13. #13

    Thank you...and more of the same, please!

    Quote Originally Posted by JimBD View Post
    On February 10, 1991 Duke beat LSU with Shaquille O'Neal 88-70. As a Duke grad living in the New Orleans area, I saved an article in which LSU's Coach Dale Brown was very complimentary about the atmosphere and experience of his team playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium. I have never met Coach K, but toward the end of the season, I sent the article to Coach K, thanking him for a great season, saying something to the effect that this was the most fun Duke team I had ever watched, and wishing him and the team the best of luck in the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

    I never expected a reply from Coach K, and unfortunately on March 10, 1991 UNC blew out Duke 96-74 in the ACC Tournament.

    On March 11,1991, while preparing for the NCAA Tournament which would begin three days later, Coach K took the time to write me the following thank-you letter: "Dear Jim: Thank you very much for the article containing Dale Brown's comments about Cameron Indoor Stadium. We played extremely well against LSU and were fortunate to beat them. Our crowd really helped! The students in Cameron Indoor Stadium create an unbelievable environment for us. We are fortunate indeed to have the nation's best sixth man supporting us. Take care, and thank you for your kind comments about our team and your continued support."


    Duke went on to win its first National Championship. That letter is proudly framed, along with a picture of the 1991 National Championship team, and is one of my most prized possessions.
    Dear Posters,

    Just want to say how much I love and appreciate these stories, and I hope that you will continue to share. They don't have to be big and dramatic stories, just stories that meant and mean a lot to you and those you know. I love the non-basketball stories as much as the b-ball ones. Coach K is truly a special person, and I hope that none of us ever take him for granted.

    As for me, I am most impressed with his amazing generosity -- especially his generosity with his scarcest resource -- his time.

    I have a couple more stories, from direct interactions, but I'll save them for later. Meanwhile, thanks, and be well and safe. Go Duke!
    “I love it. Coach, when we came here, we had a three-hour meeting about the core values. If you really represent the core values, it means diving on the floor, sacrificing your body for your teammates, no matter how much you’re up by or how much you’re down by, always playing hard.” -- Zion

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Steamboat Springs, CO
    Now is the time to get dark and serious. I went to the ACC tournament in Atlanta in 1983. In the first round, Duke played Virginia with Ralph Sampson. We lost, uh, 109-66 -- 43 points. It was really ugly, asnd wasn;t that the time Sampson accused the Duke players of "playing dirty?" In the Duke suite after the game, according to John Feinstein, Mickie Krzyzewski is sobbing like crazy -- she thinks Coach K is going to get fired. After all, it's season number three, and there is nothing to show for his time at Duke. One of the long-time Duke types, perhaps John Roth, told John F., "We've got to get Mike out of here." So they went to a nearby Denny's restaurant. During the meal, one of them said, "Here's to forgetting tonight." To which Coach K replied, "Here's to never forgetting tonight."

    He didn't. After 1983, Duke won 16 games in a row against UVA.

    Three years after the beat down in Atlanta, Feinstein congratulated K at the end of the 1986 season -- regional finals, ACC's, whatever. Mike Krzyzewski told him, "This is a lot better than that effing Denny's."
    Sage Grouse

    ---------------------------------------
    'When I got on the bus for my first road game at Duke, I saw that every player was carrying textbooks or laptops. I coached in the SEC for 25 years, and I had never seen that before, not even once.' - David Cutcliffe to Duke alumni in Washington, DC, June 2013

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Undisclosed
    Quote Originally Posted by sagegrouse View Post
    Now is the time to get dark and serious. I went to the ACC tournament in Atlanta in 1983. In the first round, Duke played Virginia with Ralph Sampson. We lost, uh, 109-66 -- 43 points. It was really ugly, asnd wasn;t that the time Sampson accused the Duke players of "playing dirty?" In the Duke suite after the game, according to John Feinstein, Mickie Krzyzewski is sobbing like crazy -- she thinks Coach K is going to get fired. After all, it's season number three, and there is nothing to show for his time at Duke. One of the long-time Duke types, perhaps John Roth, told John F., "We've got to get Mike out of here." So they went to a nearby Denny's restaurant. During the meal, one of them said, "Here's to forgetting tonight." To which Coach K replied, "Here's to never forgetting tonight."

    He didn't. After 1983, Duke won 16 games in a row against UVA.

    Three years after the beat down in Atlanta, Feinstein congratulated K at the end of the 1986 season -- regional finals, ACC's, whatever. Mike Krzyzewski told him, "This is a lot better than that effing Denny's."
    IIRC, as the players arrived for the first practice the next year, the scoreboard in Cameron had that score put up on it. Never forget.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Carolina Beach
    Quote Originally Posted by JimBD View Post
    On February 10, 1991 Duke beat LSU with Shaquille O'Neal 88-70. As a Duke grad living in the New Orleans area, I saved an article in which LSU's Coach Dale Brown was very complimentary about the atmosphere and experience of his team playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium. I have never met Coach K, but toward the end of the season, I sent the article to Coach K, thanking him for a great season, saying something to the effect that this was the most fun Duke team I had ever watched, and wishing him and the team the best of luck in the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

    I never expected a reply from Coach K, and unfortunately on March 10, 1991 UNC blew out Duke 96-74 in the ACC Tournament.

    On March 11,1991, while preparing for the NCAA Tournament which would begin three days later, Coach K took the time to write me the following thank-you letter: "Dear Jim: Thank you very much for the article containing Dale Brown's comments about Cameron Indoor Stadium. We played extremely well against LSU and were fortunate to beat them. Our crowd really helped! The students in Cameron Indoor Stadium create an unbelievable environment for us. We are fortunate indeed to have the nation's best sixth man supporting us. Take care, and thank you for your kind comments about our team and your continued support."

    Duke went on to win its first National Championship. That letter is proudly framed, along with a picture of the 1991 National Championship team, and is one of my most prized possessions.
    This reminded me of a letter I have around here somewhere from Coach K. I think it was 85 when Duke beat UNC in Carmichael for the first time in forever. Is it possible it was as far back as 66? I had the article from my childhood of the last time Duke won in Carmichael and I sent the article to him. And he responded nicely. How thoughtful it was of me to send it to him. Kept googling and found this from someone we hold dear here.. Thanks Jim.

    https://www.dukebasketballreport.com...vils-tar-heels

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Carolina Beach
    Quote Originally Posted by sagegrouse View Post
    Now is the time to get dark and serious. I went to the ACC tournament in Atlanta in 1983. In the first round, Duke played Virginia with Ralph Sampson. We lost, uh, 109-66 -- 43 points. It was really ugly, asnd wasn;t that the time Sampson accused the Duke players of "playing dirty?" In the Duke suite after the game, according to John Feinstein, Mickie Krzyzewski is sobbing like crazy -- she thinks Coach K is going to get fired. After all, it's season number three, and there is nothing to show for his time at Duke. One of the long-time Duke types, perhaps John Roth, told John F., "We've got to get Mike out of here." So they went to a nearby Denny's restaurant. During the meal, one of them said, "Here's to forgetting tonight." To which Coach K replied, "Here's to never forgetting tonight."

    He didn't. After 1983, Duke won 16 games in a row against UVA.

    Three years after the beat down in Atlanta, Feinstein congratulated K at the end of the 1986 season -- regional finals, ACC's, whatever. Mike Krzyzewski told him, "This is a lot better than that effing Denny's."
    I have heard this one many times and it is hard to top.

    I was coaching an all star basketball team, in of all places, Hillsborough. Back then it seemed 75% of the kids were UNC fans and the rest were State fans. The rout was on the television when we were in the hotel room the night before our game. To add misery to the weekend, we played the eventual state champion, Chapel Hill, the next morning. The other coach opened up in 4 corners to get us out of the zone because he knew we were not going to match up well man to man.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Took my son to a book signing at the Bryan Center shortly after the 2001 NCAA Championship. He was five, so in addition to buying Coach K's book I also bought
    a large Disney book with a lot of pictures to keep him entertained during the long wait. I brought a camera hoping to get a pic. We finally got to Coach K. He was
    very friendly. I told my son that now is the time to ask Coach about a basketball scholarship. Coach K said "if I thought I would still be around when you could use
    a scholarship I'd offer it now". Coach K said to my son "hey buddy I notice your dad has a camera how about taking a picture with me". One of my most treasured
    pictures. And the Disney book, Coach signed it too.

    After the first Olympic gold I went to RDU to welcome coach home. Of course they flew in General Aviation. But the press was set up in that run down terminal
    I think Midway or Southwest once used. Anyway, just before the traveling group made it to the press conference area there was a short line of Duke staffers that had not made
    the trip. I lined up with them. Coach K recognized everyone and was giving fist bumps. When he got to me his face said who are you? I got a fist bump too!!

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Chesapeake, VA.
    When my youngest son was in middle school, one of his teachers made a strange assignment, asking the students to write letters to famous people to see what would happen.

    He sent letters off to several famous people that he idolized, one of whom was Coach K.



    After a couple of weeks, he got something in the mail from Coach K. It included a signed photograph with some words of encouragement. He didn't hear back from any of the other people he contacted. I was pretty impressed that Coach K took the time to do this for my son, who was, essentially, a random unknown 14-year-old who approached Coach K via mail without any invitation or specific reason to do so.
    "We are not provided with wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us, an effort which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world." --M. Proust

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    NW Durham, NC

    My favorite personal Coach K stories...

    My favorite personal Coach K stories involve my mother. Barbara Buschman (Class of '46), a name Duke students from the 40's to the 90's likely recognize, was the University's Housing Coordinator/Director of Housing, until her retirement in '93 (after 47 years as an employee at Duke). Her tenure at Duke thus overlapped Coach K's by 13 years. During that time, she interacted with him directly very rarely. When a basketball player was late with housing forms or some such, she mostly dealt with assistants (and as if by magic, the player would show up in minutes with the forms). Still, he definitely knew who she was and her importance in the University as he made sure she got invites to the annual banquet when she was still working, and he sent her autographed team posters to her office in Res Life.

    The first specific story I'll share centered around my mother's efforts to get better seats at Cameron. As I've mentioned before on this forum, she attended basketball games at Duke from her Freshmen year in '42-43 all the way until her passing in 2018 just after the end of the '17-18 season. My parents seats prior to their divorce were right by the University President's current seats, front row right behind the students near mid court. They gave up those four seats, which together they could swing, and each got two around in the corners (not in the same section, but close enough that us kids could swap at halftime easily). Mom hated those seats, stuck down in the low corner where the far corner on her side of the court was obscured by Crazies. Every year, she asked the ticket office if she could improve her seats, every year they told her no. Frustrated after several years, she asked our family friend, the late Tom D'Armi, then the facilities director, if he perhaps he could swing getting her better seats. They denied him as well. At this point, she gave up and decided she was just stuck where she was. A couple weeks later, out of the blue, she got a call from the ticket office. She was now assigned two seats in Sec. 6, right on the center court line, far enough up that she would easily see every inch of the court. She found out that those two seats had been tickets that Coach K had that he told them to swap her to. I always presumed Tom D'Armi had something to do with Coach K finding out about it, but for the next quarter century (until her age forced her to opt for seats at concourse level, row E, no steps to climb, in the early 2010's) she had a couple of the best seats in the house, courtesy of one Mike Krzyzewski.

    The second story happened 15 years after her retirement. She and I went to the dedication of the basketball practice facility back in '08, where the new facility was named for Coach Krzyzewski. Coach K gave a little speech about the facility and thanking everyone for coming that he ended by saying that he had to run but those of us in attendance were all free to wonder around and check out the facility. As he walked off the riser he had been standing on, he spotted my mom through the crowd. He quickly changed course to cut through the crowd right to her! He gave her a big hug, called her by name and asked her how retirement was treating her. They chatted for a few moments, I was acknowledged with a firm handshake as the dutiful son escorting his mother around, and he was off with narry a word to anyone else. Now, keep in mind that she had retired 15 years earlier and they hadn't seen each other at least since then, and really they barely ever interacted in the 13 years their tenures at Duke overlapped, so she was quite surprised (I was so impressed that he knew her name and face immediately like that). I swear she smiled non-stop for weeks after that! It really made her whole year to be remembered and acknowledged like that after all those years. Thanks Coach K!

    I met him a couple other times myself, all were brief encounters of little consequence, and aside from literally bumping into each other back-to-back at Jane D'Armi's memorial service, all were devoid of anything very interesting at all to report. The two stories above exemplify why I hold him in such high regard personally (and not just for what he has accomplished professionally).

    Keep the stories coming, I'm certainly enjoying them (and the distraction they are providing).
    -BuschDevil

    "...Man, who even now finds scarce breathing room on this vast globe, cannot retire from the Old World to some yet undiscovered continent, and wait for the slow action of such causes to replace, by a new creation, the Eden he has wasted".
    -George Perkins Marsh (1864)

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