Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski – aka Coach K – is in pursuit of his fifth national title with the Blue Devils. He made history earlier this season by being the first NCAA Division I men’s basketball coach to reach 1,000 wins. Coach K has one of the nation’s top recruits and players, Jahlil Okafor and he has helped lead Duke to a No. 2 regular season ranking in the ACC and No. 4 in the AP Top 25.
And now he’s looking to help his team battle through March Madness and to a national title.
Here’s what you need to know the legendary Coach K:
1. Krzyzewski Is a Hall of Fame Coach And in His 34th Season With Duke
Coach K took over the Blue Devils program in 1980 from Bill Foster. Throughout his 34th seasons at the helm of the Blue Devils, Krzyzewski has achieved many accolades coaches only dream of.
Coach K was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001, the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 and the United States Olympic Hall of Fame in 2009 with the “Dream Team.”
On November 15, 2011, he led Duke to a 74-69 win over Michigan State at Madison Square Garden. And with this win, Krzyzewski bypassed his former coach, Bob Knight, to become the winningest coach in NCAA Division I men’s basketball history with 903 wins.
Fastforward to this season, and on January 25, in the same arena – Madison Square Garden – Coach K made history again by reaching a milestone – career win No. 1,000.
In his tenure at Duke, Coach 1K and “Kounting” has had 11 Final Four berths, four National Championships, 12 conference championships and is a 12-time National Coach of the Year.
His 2014-15 Blue Devils are ranked 4th in the AP Top 25, and are 8th the nation in points per game – 80.3, and 6th in field goal percentage – 49.7.
2. Coach K Played at West Point Under Bob Knight
After graduating from Archbishop Weber High School in Chicago, Krzyzewski enrolled at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1966.
While training to become a United States Army officer, he played point and shooting guard for the basketball team under Bob Knight, who is best-known for his coaching career at Indiana which spanned from 1971-2000.
His senior season, Coach K was named captain of the team and helped lead Army to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) at Madison Square Garden. West Point walked away with a fourth-place finish at the end of the tournament.
Following his graduation in 1969, Krzyzewski served in the Army and directed service teams for three years.
Coach K then started his coaching career at Indiana in 1974 as an assistant under Knight before taking the head coaching position at his old alma mater the next year. He coached at West Point until taking the helm at Duke in 1980.
3. Coach K Is The Highest Paid College Basketball Coach
According to Business Insider, Krzyzewski is not only the highest paid NCAA basketball coach, but also the highest paid NCAA coach period. He makes nearly $4 million more than other hoops coaches and about $2.5 million more than Alabama’s Nick Saban, who is the highest paid football coach with a yearly salary of $7.2 million.
Coach K’s yearly salary is $9,682,032, which according to USA Today, is $2,448,056 more than he made in the 2013-14 season.
The next highest paid basketball coaches from No. 2 – 10 are as follows:
Rick Pitino, Louisville – $5,758,338
John Calipari, Kentucky – $5,511,381
Bill Self, Kansas – $4,960,763
Billy Donovan, Florida – $3,905,964
Tom Izzo, Michigan State – $3,893,954
Steve Alford, UCLA – $3,473,973
Thad Matta, Ohio State – $3,282,000
Josh Pastner, Memphis – $2,650,000
Sean Miller, Arizona – $2,627,806
And it’s interesting to note that Krzyzewski is the only coach in the top 10 list who does not have potential bonus money listed.
4. Krzyzewski Coached Two Olympic Men’s Basketball Teams
Coach K has not only shared his coaching talents on the college hardwood, but also at the national level. He’s had coaching stints for the USA Men’s Olympic Basketball Team and various FIBA teams.
Krzyzewski started as an assistant coach to the USA teams that came home with gold medals at the 1984 and 1992 Olympics. Then in 2005 he was appointed as head coach through the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which saw the U.S. team earning a gold medal after finishing with a perfect 8-0 record.
At the 2012 London Olympics, Coach K again led the U.S. team to another gold medal. And despite stepping down in 2013, Team USA announced that he will continue on as coach through the 2016 Olympics.
5. Coach K Has Been Given a NBA Coaching Offer at Least Five Times
Krzyzewski’s success at the collegiate, national and Olympic levels haven’t gone unnoticed by the NBA. In fact, he has been offered to coach in the NBA at least five times.
The first offer was in 1990 after he led the Blue Devils to their third straight Final Four appearance. The Boston Celtics approached Coach K with an offer, but he declined.
The following season, Krzyzewski’s tournament success continued as he led Duke to the first of two back-to-back national championships. Soon after, in 1994, it was the Portland Trail Blazers that made the offer this time. And again, he declined.
Ten years later, after Phil Jackson left the helm of the L.A. Lakers, Krzyzewski was interviewed and given a formal offer – reportedly for five years, $40 million and part ownership. Coach K said no again.
In 2010, following his most recent national championship, the New Jersey Nets were reportedly willing to offer Coach K somewhere between $12-15 million per season to coach. And like the three before, Krzyzewski declined.
The next year it was the Minnesota Timberwolves who came knocking, looking for a coach to fill their head coach vacancy. Another no.
With each offer Coach K decline and returned to Duke, and now he’s in the pursuit of his fifth national championship with the Blue Devils.
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