Duke Blue Devils' Mike Krzyzewski Is Top-Notch Leader in Basketball, Life

By Elaine J. Dispo
Coach K and Matt Jones
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Krzyzewski is a winner, both at coaching basketball games and at teaching life lessons. He literally has written books on success.

The Duke Blue Devils‘ head basketball coach since 1980 has made a positive impact on his players and people all over the world many moons over. He even has a center at Duke named after him: the Coach K Center on Leadership & Ethics, where he recently motivated more leaders at his annual Leadership Summit.

As “Coach K” enters the 2013-14 season with Duke, this four-time NCAA championship coach led his Blue Devils, the ACC favorites, to beating the Davidson Wildcats on Friday, Nov. 8.

Their win, thanks to freshman Jabari Parker‘s debut performance, follows victorious exhibitions against the Bowie State Bulldogs on Saturday, Oct. 26, and the Drury Panthers on Saturday, Nov. 2. Next, they will take on the Kansas Jayhawks in the State Farm Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

Parker is another player in Krzyzewski’s almost 34-year history at Duke and almost four decades of coaching basketball who is fortunate to have the Coach K experience, one that transcends developing skills on the court into succeeding in the game of life. Another notable player is recent NBA retiree Grant Hill, Duke alum, who now hosts NBA Inside Stuff.

As I am a doctoral candidate in leadership studies, Coach K happens to be one of the inspirations in my research. I have compared his coaching style to one of his own coaches, Bobby Knight, who he played for at West Point, where Krzyzewski trained to become an Army officer and coached after active duty.

Coach K actually broke Knight’s Division-I basketball 902-record coaching wins two seasons ago. Krzyzewski is the men’s winningest Division-I basketball coach, next to the women’s — my female b-ball inspiration — Pat Summitt, who coached the Lady Tennessee Volunteers to almost 1,100 victories.

At 66, Coach K is still going strong, as he also has led Team USA to two Olympic gold medals and will continue to coach through the next FIBA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

For your reading pleasure and guidance, I recommend Krzyzewski’s success books: Leading with the Heart: Coach K’s Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life, as well as Beyond Basketball: Coach K’s Keywords for Success.

As we honor our military service men and women this Veterans Day, I write this tribute with salute to Krzyzewski, whose influence surpasses basketball into sacrifice for the USA. You truly are a soldier of moral conduct and values, Coach K.

Elaine Dispo is a Dallas Mavericks writer for RantSports.com. Follow her on Twitter, “Like” her on Facebook or add her to your network on Google.

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