Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Getting to know Mike Krzyzewski

Esquire has a profile of Coach K, written by a UNC fan trying to overcome his lifelong antipathy to K and Duke. Get to know the Coach and see how the writer brings him to tears about his parents.
Krzyzewski came up believing that he was going to have to batter his way into a society that would have been quite happy for him to pound the North Side pavement for the rest of his life. And if Krzyzewski himself wasn't exactly a working-class hero, he harbored no illusions about the way society worked. "It isn't all equal," he said. "If it were, everybody would be born into the same pool and given the same advantages from the start."

His father paid for the unfairness with his name. "He didn't go by the name Krzyzewski," the son said. "He went by the name Kross. That's how my father handled ethnic discrimination. That's what he felt he had to do to get a job.

"It made me better prepared to handle this environment," Krzyzewski said. "C'mon, what are you going to do to me that wasn't done to my dad at a worse level? Because they were Polish, my parents were worried that if they messed up in any way, they might not get the job. That's the real world. So if you're going to say something bad to me about Duke, is that going to hurt me? Are you kidding me? It's only going to make me want to do better."
That's what I like: what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

In our household, we're very fond of Coach K since both my daughters are (or have been) Cameron Crazies. My younger daughter has been tenting for the UNC game March 8 since the day after Christmas. Here she is with her tentmates at the Maryland game. She's in the lower left corner in the navy Cameron Crazy shirt.

I suspect that 30 years from now, it is only moments like that one that she'll remember from her college career.