Earlier this year, Artful Living special contributor Michele Tafoya and I traveled to Durham, North Carolina, to interview the one, the only Mike Krzyzewski, better known as Coach K. In our exclusive interview with the winningest coach in NCAA Division I history, he opened up to his old friend about his nearly 40-year run at Duke, his legacy and more. Here are 5 things he revealed to us.
He has learned to accept the idea of one-and-done players.
“We really haven’t changed the type of kid who we recruit. Everyone says we’ve gone into one-and-done, but it’s the world that’s changed. Grant Hill, Shane Battier, Christian Laettner — all those kids would have been one-and-done. But now, if we’ve done a good job preparing them, after one year they’re ready. They’re still part of our family, but they only lived in the house for one year.”
He thinks college athlete endorsements are the next wave.
“I think it would be very complicated to pay, but we need to figure out endorsements. I’d be a very big proponent of that — not necessarily something they get now, but a trust. There are people who know how to do these things, and I don’t pretend to be one of them. But I think we could figure out endorsements; I think that’s the next wave.”
If he could, he’d have Tyus and Tre Jones as sons.
“The Jones brothers have been spectacular. Both of them are off the charts in all three areas [athletic talent, academics and character]. Maybe the most, though, is in character. When Tyus and Tre are in a group, that group is elevated, whether on or off the court, because they will only accept the best.
I don’t have sons; I have daughters and grandsons. And if I could pick two guys to be sons, Tyus and Tre are two I would pick. Because I enjoy being with them all the time.”
His mom predicted his first NCAA National Championship win.
“So we’re playing for the national championship in Denver in 1990, and Las Vegas (UNLV) just killed us. It was the largest loss in any championship game in the NCAA. I go back to our suite, and my mom comes in and sees that I’m down. And she says, ‘Mike.’ And I say, ‘What, Ma?’ And she says, ‘Don’t worry. You’ll do better next year.’ And I say, ‘Ma, we played for a national championship and lost.’
But a year later, we won the national championship. We beat UNLV in the semis, then we beat Kansas. So after the game, I’m sitting in the suite, and she comes in and says, ‘Mike.’ And I say, ‘Ma.’ And she says, ‘I told you you would do better.’ That’s amazing, right? I’m telling you, it’s a true story. I’m not embellishing it. How about that?”
His secret to success is living in the moment.
“If we end up getting a chance to win this whole thing, these kids should not be playing for my sixth championship. They should be playing for their first. And staying in that moment is so much more exciting.”