Local News

Student's E-Mail Helps Influence Krzyzewski To Stay

Posted July 6, 2004

— From personal commitments, to a sense of family, to even a particular student's e-mail, there were many factors in Mike Krzyzewski's decision to remain as Duke's basketball coach instead of going to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Krzyzewski, who is as much a part of Duke as the color blue, likened his decision to stay at the university with renewing his wedding vows, which he did last month after being married for 35 years.

Entering his 25th season with the Blue Devils, Coach K has reaffirmed his marriage with Duke and the community surrounding it.

"If he had been just a dollars-and-cents man, he would have been gone," Duke radio analyst Bob Harris said of the Lakers' five-year $40 million offer to Krzyzewski to be their next head coach. "We wouldn't be having this conversation."

Harris pointed to Coach K's community commitments as one of the main reasons he decided to stay -- commitments such as Duke's Children's Hospital and building a commmunity center next to his church.

"He wanted to see this become a reality because those are some things that he grew up around in Chicago," Harris said, "and he wanted the community of Durham to enjoy those types of things."

Krzyzewski also acknowledged that the fans and students influenced his decision. In particular, there was a student named Andrew Humphries.

"He wrote an e-mail that made us all cry, really," Krzyzewski said during a Monday press conference to announce his decision to stay at Duke.

Humphries sent an e-mail asking Krzyzewski to stay at Duke and telling him what the coach meant to him:

I suppose that you've recieved a flurry of these sorts of emails, but I figured there was no reason to keep my hat out of the ring. Duke Basketball is the reason I came to this university, plain and simple. One of my essays was about Bobby Hurley's assist record and watching Thomas Hill cry his eyes out. Without knowing it, or perhaps fully knowing it, you have been integral part of the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who you've never actually met. We watch you coach, we come to Cameron and hear you speak (though we never bring tape recorders, because we always do as you ask), and most of all, we admire you. We admire you because you take kids from all over the country and you make them into a family that seems second only to your actual family in your life. We admire you because you taught us that five people together is a fist, while one person is just a finger. We admire you because you are just an old Polish guy in the dark, looking for some heart. And you always find it.

Like most all teenage boys, I used to stand in my driveway for hours and shoot baskets while pretending that I played for you. Most of this time was spent concocting more scenarios in which I could win the national championship for you by making half courters, three pointers, steals followed by layups, or some combination there of. I counted down to myself in my head, and if I missed the winning shot, the clock had stalled and I got a second chance. Around the tenth grade I discovered that no, I was not going to play for Coach K.

And then I got to Duke. And discovered that, yes, I am going to play for Coach K. I am going to be his sixth man. We hear about it on tv, how the Crazies are like a team member, and we think, sure. We're a team member as soon as we get a jumper. But then we get to Duke, and we watch players from all over the country stare wide eyed at us as their jumpers start to clang off the back iron. We get to Duke and we hear you speaking, imploring us to be louder, try harder, to give 100%. We get to Duke and we realize you are our coach. Not just the coach of our team, but you are also our coach, because you believe that we give you something no one else can and we know that you give us something that no one ever could.

Please still be my coach. I know that we can find more heart to offer an old Polish guy in the dark next year.

"That is the type of relationship that makes this place different," Krzyzewski said.

Humphries told WRAL that Krzyzewski's wife, Mickie, called him Monday morning and told him that Krzyzewski read his e-mail. Humphries said he was overwhelmed and surprised that Coach K would take the time to do that.

But, after Monday's announcement, it appears Krzyzweski took all things into consideration when pondering whether to stay or go.

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