In 1965 Army head men’s basketball coach Bob Knight made his recruiting pitch to a scrawny kid from a Chicago Catholic League school. He was looking for a point guard, but ended up with one of the most accomplished college basketball coaches in history.
On Tuesday night before a sellout crowd of 19,979 at Madison Square Garden, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski passed his former coach and mentor to become the all-time winningest coach in Division I men’s basketball with Duke’s 67-55 win over Michigan State.
After the final horn sounded on win No. 903, “Coach K” walked over to the broadcast table where he met the always-sweaterd Knight — the previous record-holder with 902 victories — for a few emotional words and an embrace.
Two men with 1,805 wins a so much more shared between them over the last 46 years.
“I just told Coach I love him,” Krzyzewski said of the exchange. “I wouldn’t be in this position without him. It’s a moment shared. I know he’s very proud, and I’m very proud to have been somebody who’s worked under him and studied him and tried to be like him.
“I’m not sure how many people tell him they love him but I love him for what he’s done for me and I thanked him. He said ‘Boy, you’ve done pretty good for a kid who couldn’t shoot.’ I think that means he loves me too. At least that’s how I’m taking that.”
Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis, a Duke graduate himself, chronicles the long and tumultuous relationship between two of the most well-respected coaches in the game — and two of the most stubborn.
When Duke was searching for a new head coach in 1980, Knight told Blue Devils athletic director Tom Butters he didn’t think Krzyzewski could handle the pressure of the ACC. Then in 1992 after the Blue Devils beat Indiana in the Final Four, Knight gave his former point guard the cold shoulder in the handshake line after the game.
Nearly a decade later when Coach K was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, he chose Knight to present him. That night brought the two together once more and the scene after Tuesday’s game looked quite similar.
So how long will Krzyzewski hold the record?
CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish broke down the top 10 threats to Coach K’s record, starting with a few guys who likely don’t have many years left on the sideline (Jim Boeheim - 858 wins, Jim Calhoun - 854) but also including young guns like VCU’s Shaka Smart (age 34, 56 wins) and Butler’s Brad Stevens (35, 117 wins).