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A timeline of Coach K and Roy Williams' memorable moments

In total, Williams and Krzyzewski coached against one another 44 times, with the latter holding the 25-19 edge.
In total, Williams and Krzyzewski coached against one another 44 times, with the latter holding the 25-19 edge.

On Thursday morning, North Carolina head coach Roy Williams announced his retirement from college basketball.

Williams manned the Tar Heel sideline for 18 years, while leading Kansas for another 15 years before that, so countless meetings and moments between him and Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski were inevitable.

We take a look back at some of those moments, from their bout in the 1991 NCAA Championship Game to that 2009 Guitar Hero commercial with Metallica.

April 1, 1991: Krzyzewski and Williams battle in national title game

The first notable meeting, and only second meeting overall, between Krzyzewski and Williams as head coaches came in the 1991 NCAA Championship Game. Led by forward Mark Randall and guards Terry Brown and Adonis Jordan, Williams’ Jayhawks came into the contest as the underdogs, as the Blue Devils’ Bobby Hurley-Grant Hill-Christian Laettner trio had already risen to national prominence following an upset win against undefeated UNLV in the Final Four. Duke led by eight at halftime, and Kansas was unable to claw back during the second half as the Blue Devils’ 56.1% overall clip from the field kept them in the lead for nearly the entire 40 minutes. Duke ended up victorious 72-65, with Krzyzewski claiming his first of five national championships. -Micah Hurewitz

March 19, 2000: Kansas nearly upsets top-seeded Duke

Three years before Williams would lead Kansas back to the national title game in 2003, he nearly led the eighth-seeded Jayhawks to a shocking upset of the top-seeded Blue Devils in the tournament’s always-wild first weekend. Led by freshmen Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison, Williams’ squad kept the score close despite Shane Battier’s eight—yes, eight—blocks before Carlos Boozer’s late-game heroics sealed the deal for Duke, which would ultimately fall to eventual national title runner-up Florida in the Sweet 16. However, the most memorable moment from the matchup was a first-half squabble by the scorer’s table between Williams and Krzyzewski, well before the two would coach against each other in the famed Tobacco Road rivalry. -Jonathan Levitan

March 27, 2003: Williams defeats Krzyzewski for the first time as a head coach

The Krzyzewski-Williams saga has roots reaching back far deeper than 2003, but that year’s NCAA tournament marked a pivotal moment in the two legendary coaches’ rivalry—Williams’ first head-coaching win against Krzyzewski. Williams had long observed Krzyzewski from the opposing bench during his days as an assistant coach at North Carolina, but his first head coaching job at Kansas led to four showdowns between the two leading their respective sidelines, with Williams getting the best of Krzyzewski in this Sweet 16 matchup. Overall, Williams went 1-3 against Krzyzewski during his Kansas tenure, but he would have more luck against Duke during his upcoming days in Chapel Hill. -Jake Piazza

April 15, 2003: Williams takes head coaching job at North Carolina

The relationship between Krzyzewski and Williams changed forever when the latter was hired as North Carolina’s head coach prior to the 2003-04 season. The Duke-UNC rivalry as a whole changed as well. Prior to Williams’ hiring, the Blue Devils had won 12 of the two schools’ previous 14 matchups. And while Krzyzewski won his first three games against the Williams-led Tar Heels to extend Duke’s longest stretch of dominance in the rivalry to date, the tides began to turn quickly, with North Carolina winning seven of the next nine. Since then, the Tobacco Road rivalry has returned to a level state of unexpectedness. But had Williams not returned home to take the North Carolina job, who knows where the rivalry would be today. -Evan Kolin

March 29, 2009: Williams, Krzyzewski, Bob Knight, Rick Pitino and Metallica appear in Guitar Hero commercial

What do Williams, Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino, Bobby Knight and Metallica all have in common? Maybe not much, but they did all co-star together in a 2009 Guitar Hero commercial. While the four coaches will all be remembered for their legacy on the sidelines, their commercial appearance while wearing a dress shirt and socks to imitate Tom Cruise’s acting performance in “Risky Business” will never be forgotten. -Piazza

Nov. 13, 2009: Harrison Barnes commits to North Carolina over Duke

Williams and Krzyzewski engaged in countless recruiting battles over the years, but none had as much hype and anticipation as Harrison Barnes’ college decision. Everyone around the sport had long expected the No. 1 player in the Class of 2010 to don a Duke jersey, joining friend Kyrie Irving—who committed one month earlier—and a Blue Devil roster that would go on to win the 2010 national title. However, Barnes made a shocking commitment to North Carolina in a unique way: a live Skype call to his future coach. Williams answered the video call, signifying a massive get for the defending champion Tar Heels, who had lost many key players and were in the midst of an NIT season. Krzyzewski responded to the recruiting defeat by signing 10 top-three recruits over the next eight years. -Shane Smith

Feb. 19, 2015: Duke and North Carolina remember Dean Smith

Feb. 2015 was a gut-wrenching month for the college basketball world, as Dean Smith—the legendary former Tar Heel head coach—passed away after battling dementia. Smith and Krzyzewski had grown close after some heated battles on the court in the 1980s and 1990s, with Williams part of the action as a North Carolina assistant from 1978-1988. Duke and North Carolina faced off just 11 days after Smith’s death, with the hearts of everyone in Cameron Indoor Stadium that night still heavy. Before tip-off, both teams embraced and knelt together at midcourt for a moment of silence. Williams and Krzyzewski were next to each other during the tribute, marking a break from the intensity of the Tobacco Road rivalry and a nod toward a man that both coaches admired greatly. -Max Rego

Feb. 8, 2020: Vernon Carey Jr. handshake

In what was overshadowed by a dramatic comeback win, Duke’s chances against the Tar Heels in the two teams’ first meeting of 2020 took a hit when stud freshman Vernon Carey Jr. was called for a charge and fouled out of the game late in the second half. While certainly upset at the Blue Devils’ seemingly waning hopes against their archrivals, the eventual ACC Freshman of the Year surprisingly took a quick detour on his way to the bench to stop and shake hands with Williams. Carey chose to attend Duke over North Carolina (and Michigan State) back in high school, but the respectful moment between the two highlighted Williams’ ability to create lasting relationships, even with recruits who went elsewhere. -Smith

Feb. 8, 2020: The final comeback

Williams and Krzyzewski squared off in a number of classic Duke-UNC battles. Chris Duhon’s layup in 2004, Marvin Williams’ game-winner in 2005, the Austin Rivers game—the list goes on and on. But perhaps the most miraculous—emphasis on perhaps—of these down-to-the-wire finishes came last year, when two buzzer-beaters via Tre Jones and Wendell Moore Jr. capped off a Blue Devil win in one of the craziest Tobacco Road rivalry games in history. This of course was far from the only memorable finish to a Duke-UNC contest, but it was one that perfectly encompassed what the rivalry throughout Williams’ tenure at North Carolina was all about.  -Kolin

March 6, 2021: Williams kisses center court after last win vs. Duke 

After losing the previous three games in the rivalry, North Carolina swept the 2020-21 season’s two Duke-UNC matchups. While unknown at the time, the 91-73 win in the second game of the series ended up being the final home game of Williams’ career. Fittingly, after the final buzzer sounded, he went to the center of Roy Williams Court and kissed the North Carolina logo in a picture-perfect moment. While rumors of retirement swirled after the gesture, Williams said later that it was simply an expression of his love for his home arena. Whether or not he knew at the time that he was giving his time at the Dean E. Smith Center a goodbye kiss, the moment will live on as a touching finish to Williams’ career against Duke and at North Carolina. -Sasha Richie


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