There might not be a single person more connected to the world of college basketball than Mike Krzyzewski. Since taking over Duke’s men’s basketball team in 1989, he has made the team a five-time champion and perennial contender come March Madness.
With such longevity and success, it’s easy to think Krzyzewski will stick around Durham, North Carolina forever. Some fans, however, believe that retirement is near for the soon-to-be 73-year-old.
Mike Krzyzewski’s legendary career
Krzyzewski spent five years coaching the Army basketball team before taking over at Duke. Once he landed there, he became one of the greatest coaches in the history of sports. In just three years, Krzyzewski turned Duke into the contender we know today. The first three years with Coach K, however, the team didn’t make March Madness.
Krzyzewski’s 1983-84 squad was stacked with four future NBA players, as well as a future NBA analyst and Krzyzewski’s assistant Jay Bilas. The team ultimately lost in the second round of the tournament, but it set a precedent for Duke basketball. From Grant Hill to Zion Williamson, several big NBA names of the last five decades went through Krzyzewski’s program.
From his work in college to his job reinvigorating Team USA after its disastrous 2004 run, Krzyzewski is among the most well-respected coaches. He has 1,077 wins against 288 losses for a 79% winning percentage.
Although he shows no signs of giving up anytime soon, some fans, are not convinced that Krzyzewski has much time left in college basketball.
Is Mike Krzyzewski ready to retire?
According to Ball Durham, Krzyzewski has a verbal lifelong contract with Duke, but his official deal ends after the 2021 season. He will be 74 years old, with over 40 years at Duke under his belt. Krzyzewski seems like he’ll coach forever, but few do so into their mid-to-late seventies.
Krzyzewski has plenty of reasons to stick around, including his NCAA-leading $8.9 million salary. He also has many reasons to consider what’s next. Mentally, the coach might be as sharp as ever, but physically, Krzyzewski’s job is taxing. He’s endured two knee replacements and multiple back surgeries dating back to the ’90s.
Coach K has also taken a lighter load by stepping away from Team USA, so the signs of slowing down are there. Whether Duke gets one more year of its coach or several, Krzyzewski would be hard to replace. However, until he retires, there is still basketball to be played.
How is Duke doing?
On the backs of freshman center Vernon Carey Jr. and sophomore guard Tre Jones, Duke is having another great year. At 18-3 overall and 8-2 against the ACC, the team currently stands third in a close race to March. The Blue Devils are dominating opponents on the offensive end, putting up 83 points per game — nearly 18 points more than their opponents.
Duke faces hurdles ahead of them, but they still have Krzyzewski calling the shots. If his career shows us one thing, it’s that it is never a smart thing to count out Coach K and company.
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