Shortly after sporting director Kevin White called Duke’s longtime head coach the “GOAT” and promised a deep NCAA tournament run in the final season of his legendary career, Mike Krzyzewski corrected him.
“You know mine [athletic director], my friend Kevin White comes up there and he calls me a GOAT, ”joked Krzyzewski at the press conference about his retirement on Thursday. “I was glad he didn’t call me donkey. And then it’s not about having a run next year. It’s about achieving a goal so that we’re on the same wavelength. “
Krzyzewski, who has led Duke to 12 Final Four games and five national titles, underscored his commitment to a strong finish in the coming season after announcing on Wednesday that he is retiring and that assistant Jon Scheyer will succeed him of the 2021-22 season. With his family, friends, former players and reporters in the audience, the 74-year-old also made it clear that he is retiring to spend more time with his wife Mickie and his family including his three daughters and grandchildren because he is moving feared in a sport with a record number of transfers and the upcoming name, image and likeness rules.
He said he made his decision after last season when he went away with his wife. Then they talked to their children and the Duke’s assistants about the move.
“You could ask, ‘Why are you doing this right now?’ Look, this is not about health. Mickie and I, whether we look like this or not – she does – whether I look healthy … that’s me. It’s not about COVID or saying, ‘Boy, this year has been so bad. ‘ That’s not what it is about. It’s definitely not about what’s going on with college basketball. ‘Boy, the game is changing.’ Okay. I’ve been with it for 46 years. Do you think the game never changed? “
He later added, “That’s not the reason. … The reason we’re doing this is because Mickie and I have decided that in a year the journey will be as tough as we can. “
Krzyzewski said he felt it was “fair” to announce his decision and move to Scheyer before the start of the recruiting season. He said he will remain a fixture in the Duke community but will try to use his extra time to participate in his grandchildren’s activities.
At the press conference at Cameron Indoor Stadium, he pondered the “luck” that had taken him from his playing career in the Army under Bob Knight to a stint in Indiana as a graduate assistant at Knight and then back to the Army as head coach, finally Herzog. Krzyzewski mostly held his composure on the podium, but his lip trembled when he talked about the people who showed their trust in him, even though he struggled at Duke as a young coach.
After his first three years at Duke, he had set a 38-47 record. However, former Duke athletic director Tom Butters continued to support him.
“The man who believed in me the most was Tom Butters,” said an emotional Krzyzewski, owner of a record 1,170 Division I wins. “He really believed in me. And he believed in me several times. And he gave me this opportunity. After three years, most people wanted this opportunity to go to someone else. I think that’s a nice way to say it that they wanted to get rid of me. But not the guy who believed in me. “
Krzyzewski said he believed in Scheyer’s ability to lead Duke into the future. After helping Duke win the national title as a player in 2010, Scheyer had a brief professional career before returning to Duke as an assistant in 2014.
“Jon did everything and in the last few years we’ve taken it to a new level,” said Krzyzewski. “He’s one of the smartest coaches in the country, to be honest. Nobody knows that as well as I do. And [assistants Chris Carrawell and Nolan Smith] know it. The players know. It’s ironic. He’s 33. I was 33 when I was here. My greatest wish for him is not to repeat my first three years. That would not be good. Although, [incoming athletic director Nina King]”Maybe it would be a time for great faith.”
This season, Krzyzewski has the opportunity to claim his sixth national title with a top 25 group led by predicted lottery winner Paolo Banchero. He said he hopes the Cameron Indoor Stadium will be one of America’s loudest venues when fans return this fall.
Although the succession plan at Duke is well established, Krzyzewski reiterated that he is not finished yet.
“A message to our students: come back in August,” he said. “We’ll be ready, you guys are ready, and we’ll see what happens. We’ll see what the hell happens. “