Over the past few weeks the mother ship and all of her offspring have been talking non-stop about Duke Blue Devils’ Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s run to 1000 career wins.
Nothing unusual about the talking sport heads that be gushing over the Duke head man and all that he has done. Plus, whether you love him or hate him, getting to a 1K in wins makes Coach K the top of the top.
But despite the wins, where does he rank against the all-time greats? Does he have the total resume to prove him king? What is is legacy compared to say a John Wooden? Is he legend enough to rival a John Naismith or Phog Allen?
Well, after a few weeks of research the answer is a resounding yes.
And here is why…
So everyone knows Coach K is tops in wins with 993 and counting. Syracuse Orange icon Jim Boeheim is still active and second on the list at 954 but will never catch Krzyzewski. Plus, Roy Williams (730), Rick Pitino (702) and John Calipari (608) are Coach K’s peers and will not out live his coaching tenure to catch up. The only person on this list who could make a run is Mark Few. But at 413 wins, Few would need 25 more season with at least 30 wins each season to get him in the discussion. Advantage Coach K.
Next let’s take a look at how Krzyzewski comes in among the generation’s best. And to do this we will go back to the beginning.
The aforementioned Allen and his Kansas Jayhawks dominated college basketball from 1920-1952. It was a 30-year span that saw Allen win three national titles and 590 games. Next up on the legends list is Adolph Rupp. Rupp created the greatness that is Kentucky Wildcat hoops as he won five titles and 876 (6th All-Time) wins over 41 seasons.
Beginning his tenure among the hoop gods next was Wooden. After a run of seven straight championships and 88 consecutive wins, his legendary work for the UCLA Bruins is considered by many as the greatest ever. Wooden finished with 10 National Titles and 664 wins (25th All-Time).
A lot of folks will argue the success of Bobby Knight (902) and Dean Smith (879) instead of Coach K as well as these other three. Knight was a gem on and off the court and established the Indiana Hoosiers as one of the top programs in the game, but caught a bad reputation for his hostile outbursts. Smith likewise did tremendous things following in the footsteps of a legend with the North Carolina Tar Heels (plus what Smith did off the court to mend race relations was incredible). But despite your arguements for those two and the other three, let’s just toss the numbers out for Coach K.
|Coach Mike Kryzewski Accomplishments and Honors|
13 Elite Eights (1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2010, 2013)
|Awards2 Basketball Times National Coach of the Year (1986, 1997)
3 Naismith College Coach of the Year (1989, 1992, 1999)
1 NABC Coach of the Year (1991)
5 ACC Coach of the Year (1984, 1986, 1997, 1999, 2000)
Add to the fact Coach K is the most decorated of any head coach in international play and it’s hard to question his throne.
It is nearly impossible to compare every legend stat for stat because each generation is different. Fewer games were played in the early 1900s and the game was segregated as opposed to the golden ages of the 1970-90s ending with the current NBA virus of one-and-done systems. The style gap from one era to the next makes it hard to argue the case for these six and and even a few more not mentioned.
But at the end of the day, when Coach K decides to put down the whistle for good it is pretty clear where he will stand…
A top of all the coaches of every program over the past 100+ years.
Love him or hate him no one can deny he is the best of this generation, and arguably the best all time.
*Section Photo credit to Streeter Lecka, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Mark Dolejs, USA Today Sports