This article is the seventh of 16 in our "Coach K's Sweet 16" series, where we will walk back through the legendary head coach's career and recap his most iconic moments. For the full list, click here.
Just over 21 years ago, the hardwood floor in Cameron Indoor Stadium was officially unveiled as “Coach K Court,” after legendary basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
From that point on, Krzyzewski joined Eddie Cameron, a former Duke coach with the second-most wins in program history, in being immortalized in the basketball stadium’s history.
The naming of the court came on a night where the second-ranked Blue Devils beat Villanova 98-85 in the Preseason NIT, marking Krzyzewski’s 500th Duke win.
At this point in his coaching career, Krzyzewski was 500-160 in 21 seasons at Duke. The Blue Devils had won two national titles, appeared in the NCAA finals six times and had advanced to the Final Four eight times.
Under Krzyzewski, Duke was ranked No.1 eight times for a total of 53 weeks. And as if his resume wasn’t long enough, Duke had also won the conference tournament five times, achieving eight regular-season ACC titles.
It goes without saying, by the end of 2000, Krzyzewski had certainly earned to have his name permanently etched onto the court.
Following the Villanova victory on the night of Nov. 17, 2000, the university hosted Krzyzewski a surprise party with nearly 10,000 attendees inside Cameron.
Rather than naming the court after the coach’s full Polish last name, it was coined after the nickname he adopted during his Cadet days.
"I think it was smart that they used 'Coach K,'" Krzyzewski said during the postgame ceremony. "If it were 'Krzyzewski,' they'd have to change the dimensions of the court or they'd have to build a new place."
Former players Johnny Dawkins, Steve Wojciechowski and Chris Collins had the honor of paying tribute to their former coach by unveiling the logo. In addition to some familiar faces from the past, Krzyzewski’s wife, Mickey, and three daughters were also in attendance for the big celebration.
Looking back now, as Krzyzewski embarks on his final season, there’s no question of the incredible impact he has had on the university’s basketball program. Although, he was not always well-supported by Duke fans, which can be hard to imagine for Dukies today.
Tom Butters, a former athletic director, made an unpopular decision when he hired Krzyzewski over one of the top assistant’s Bob Wenzel or other bigger coaching names in basketball at the time.
In addition to the initial skepticism fans held over this decision, Krzyzewski failed to take his team to the NCAA tournament during his first three seasons. Students were upset and Iron Dukes even went as far as petitioning to have him removed. Jay Bilas, who played on the team, expressed his concern for Krzyzewski’s job when he was approached as a freshman with the petition.
Fortunately, the petition was unsuccessful, and fans will never have to know what the program would be like today if it were.
After his 500th Duke win, and the naming of the court, Krzyzewski was asked about his next milestone.
“The 500 was great and I am glad to share this milestone, but don’t expect me to be here for 500 more,” he said. “Unless they win every game.”
In retrospect, Krzyzewski’s comment holds irony, as the coach stayed well past his 1,000th win, which came in 2015. And although the program hasn’t won every single game, Coach K has held a special place in all of our hearts even through each loss.
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