Early years and playing career
Krzyzewski was born in Chicago, the son of Polish American parents Emily M. (née Pituch) and William Krzyzewski. He has roots in the Pittsburgh area, as his maternal grandparents emigrated from Poland to Keisterville, Pennsylvania. Up until he was 10 or 12, he visited there every summer; Krzyzewski had stated that he suspects the purpose of such trips was to “teach you to know where you came from and to be proud of it.”
Raised as a Catholic, Krzyzewski attended Archbishop Weber High School in Chicago, a Catholic prep school for boys. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1969, and played basketball under Bob Knight while training to become an officer in the Army. In 2005 he was presented West Point’s Distinguished Graduate Award. He was captain of the Army basketball team in his senior season, 1968–69, leading his team to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) at Madison Square Garden in New York City. From 1969 to 1974, Krzyzewski served in the Army and directed service teams for three years.
Indiana and Army
Krzyzewski retired from active duty in 1974 and started his coaching career as an assistant on Knight’s staff with the Indiana Hoosiers during their historic 1974–75 season. After one year with Indiana, Krzyzewski returned to West Point as head coach of the Army Cadets. He led the Cadets to a 73–59 record and one NIT berth in five seasons, before leaving to coach at Duke.
On March 18, 1980, Krzyzewski was named the head coach at Duke University after five seasons at Army. After a few rebuilding seasons, he and the Blue Devils became a fixture on the national basketball scene with 27 NCAA Tournament berths in the past 28 years and 17 consecutive from 1996 to 2012, which is the second-longest current streak of tournament appearances behind Kansas, which has appeared in the tournament in 22 consecutive seasons. Overall, he has taken his program to postseason play in 28 of his 31 years at Duke and is the most winning active coach in men’s NCAA Tournament play with a 79–23 record for a .775 winning percentage. His Duke teams have won 13 ACC Championships, been to 11 Final Fours, and won four NCAA tournament National Championships.
On February 13, 2010, Krzyzewski coached in his 1000th game as the Duke head coach. On March 20, 2011, Krzyzewski won his 900th game, becoming only the second head coach with at least 900 wins, the other being his head coach at Army, Bob Knight. On November 15, 2011, Krzyzewski got his 903rd win passing Knight’s record for most Division I wins. In an interview of both men on ESPN the previous night, Krzyzewski discussed the leadership skills he learned from Knight and the United States Military Academy. Knight credited Krzyzewski’s understanding of himself and his players as keys to his success over the years.
Krzyzewski has been the head coach of several USA men’s national teams, winning a silver medal at the 1987 World University Games, a bronze medal at the 1990 FIBA World Championship, a silver medal at the 1990 Goodwill Games, a bronze medal at the 2006 FIBA World Championship, and gold medals at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship, the 2010 FIBA World Championship, and 2008 Summer Olympics. He was also an assistant coach to the USA teams which won gold medals at the 1984 and 1992 Olympics as well as the 1979 Pan American Games Team and 1992 Tournament of the Americas.
In 2005, he was appointed coach of the national team through the Beijing Olympics. In the 2006 FIBA World Championship, the USA won the bronze medal after losing in the semifinals to Greece and then beating defending Olympic gold medalist Argentina for third place. On August 24, 2008, Krzyzewski’s U.S. team won the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. “The Redeem Team” finished the tournament with a perfect 8–0 record. He coached the U.S. team for the 2010 FIBA World Championship and led Team USA to a perfect 8-0 record, defeating host Turkey in the gold medal game, 81–64. Krzyzewski has amassed a total record of 35–1 (.972) as head coach of the USA National Team through the 2010 FIBA World Championship. The team has captured three golds (FIBA Americas Championship 2007, 2008 Summer Olympics, and the 2010 FIBA World Championship) and one bronze (2006 FIBA World Championship). His teams have yet to lose in pool play.
Awards and recognition
During his long tenure at Duke, Krzyzewski has been given the opportunity to coach in the NBA five times. The first time came after the 1990 season when he led the Blue Devils to their third straight Final Four appearance. The Boston Celtics offered a coaching position to Krzyzewski, but he soon declined their offer. The next season, Krzyzewski proceeded to lead the Blue Devils to the first of two straight national championships. In 1994, he was pursued by the Portland Trail Blazers, but again he chose to stay with Duke. In 2004, Krzyzewski was also interviewed by the Los Angeles Lakers following the departure of high-profile coach Phil Jackson. He was given a formal offer from Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, reportedly for five years, $40 million and part ownership, but again turned down the NBA. In 2010, the New Jersey Nets were reportedly willing to pay Krzyzewski between $12 million and $15 million per season to coach the Nets. Krzyzewski again declined the offer and stayed at Duke. In 2011, Krzyzewski was offered the vacant coaching position for the Minnesota Timberwolves
Duke has named the floor at its basketball venue, Cameron Indoor Stadium, “Coach “K” Court” in his honor. Similarly, the grassy area outside of Cameron has been named Krzyzewskiville or “K-Ville.” On February 28, 2007, Duke named its new basketball practice facility the “Michael W. Krzyzewski Center” — Dedicated to Academic & Athletic Excellence. The 56,000-square-foot (5,200 m2) building was dedicated on February 8, 2008, and also houses the Academic Support Center for all of Duke’s 600 student-athletes and an expanded Sports Hall of Fame and event center.
His alma mater inducted him into its sports hall of fame on September 11, 2009, the night before the Army vs. Duke football game. Additionally, West Point annually awards the “Coach K Teaching Character Through Sports” award each spring to cadets and coaches who display superior ethics and character through sport.
Krzyzewski has won the following awards:
1986, Basketball Times, CBS/Chevrolet, UPI National COY awards
1989, Naismith National COY
1991, United States Sports Academy awarded Kryzewski the Amos Alonzo Stagg Coaching Award.
2001, Victor Award
1984, ACC COY
1986, ACC COY
1997, ACC COY
1999, ACC COY
2000, ACC COY
2010, Chris Phillips Award
2001, Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall Of Fame.
2001, Time magazine and CNN named Krzyzewski “America’s Best Coach”; the award was not limited to any particular sport.
2008, United States Sports Academy awarded Krzyzewski the Amos Alonzo Stagg Coaching Award.
2011, Sports Illustrated “Sportsman of the Year”