Still fast when Duke’s basketball season is called his farewell tour, Mike Krzyzewski nonetheless got excited and even let his focus very quickly focus on his post-coaching life during his last visit to KFC Yum. of Louisville! Saturday center.
Before the Blue Devils No. 9 win 74-65 over the Cardinals, Louisville honored Krzyzewski’s career at a pre-match ceremony.
The school asked Louisville Slugger to cut out a custom club for Krzyzewski, complete with his signature and Duke logo.
Another Kentucky institution, Maker’s Mark Distillery, prepared a bottle of its bourbon for Krzyzewski adorned in Duke’s blue and white colors with Krzyzewski’s image on the glass.
Both were introduced to a grateful Krzyzewski at a ceremony before the starting line-ups on Saturday.
But it was whoever introduced them that made Krzyzewski emotional.
Denny Crum, the retired coach of the Louisville Hall of Fame, joined Krzyzewski in the middle of the pitch. In 1986, the first of 12 teams of Krzyzewski’s Final Four at Duke played against Crum’s Cardinals in the NCAA Final.
Louisville won, 72-69, in Dallas to claim the national championship, the second of two titles won by the Cardinals during Crum’s tenure from 1971-2001.
“You couldn’t have honored me in a better way than having Denny,” Krzyzewski said, thanking Louisville for the gifts after the game. “I’m getting excited. One of the true icons of the game and someone I have admired all my life. “
Krzyzewski hugged 84-year-old Crum twice during the pre-match ceremony.
“At that moment, you know, I focused on Denny Crum,” said Krzyzewski. “And I wasn’t thinking about previous games. I was thinking about the excellence of him and his impact on the game. Literally, he is one of the iconic coaches in the history of our game. “
Since losing that national title game to Crum and Louisville, Krzyzewski has won five NCAA championships at Duke. A couple of weeks before his 75th birthday, Krzyzewski will be retiring as manager at the end of this season.
Ceremonies and gifts such as those presented by Louisville are part of the deal when Duke goes on tour this season, although Krzyzewski insists on focusing on this year’s Blue Devils and their success.
On January 18, the state of Florida held a pre-match ceremony to announce that its manager, Leonard Hamilton, was making a contribution to Durham’s Emily Krzyzewski Center in honor of Krzyzewski’s final season. As spectators gave Krzyzewski a standing ovation, an announcement was made encouraging them to make their own donation.
In Louisville, where a crowd of 18,493 filled the arena on Saturday, another standing ovation followed the pre-game ceremony.
After Duke’s victory, Krzyzewski shared his feelings about the event and Duke’s victory. A reporter called this season his “farewell tour” and retorted, “It’s not a tour, man. I’m just trying to win our next ACC game. This tour stuff, we had 40 people with COVID over a three week period. It wasn’t a tour ”.
But seconds later, Krzyzewski let his guard down slightly.
Discussing freshman AJ Griffin and his 22 record points, Krzyzewski pointed out that Griffin is a young freshman who just turned 18 a few months ago.
“In September, right?” Krzyzewski asked Griffin, who had joined him on the stage.
“August,” Griffin corrected him.
“August, I’m sorry,” Krzyzewski said. “I’ll remember next year. When I’m on the beach “.
This story was originally published January 29, 2022 6:32 pm.