DURHAM, NC - As the college basketball season comes to an end, so will the coaching life of Duke University’s Mike Krzyzewski.
School officials confirmed Thursday that they plan to euthanize the long-time basketball mastermind, West Point graduate, and Hall of Famer following the team's exit from the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball tournament.
“He’s been such a good boy for so long, it’s hard to think of our lives without him,” Duke athletic director Kevin White said in a statement. “We’re going to miss him so much.”
While it’s been no secret that Krzyzewski was near the end, it’s become more of a reality as of late that college basketball will soon be without one of its best on the bench, even as early as Friday.
Despite a few health scares over the years, Krzyzewski has long been able to maintain a calming energy that will stay within the program “forever,” assistant coach Nolan Smith told EOTB.
“Not sure what we (Duke) look like without K,” Smith added. “It’s going to be rough for a little while, he was such a big part of our family.”
That energy, however, has noticeably waned over the last month or so, leaving “K” visibly worn out and prone to agitation, including a post-game incident where he snapped at fans following Duke’s final home game of the season, a 94-81 loss to North Carolina.
“That’s when we looked at each other and said, ‘it’s time,’” White said on the difficult decision to put the Blue Devil down. “We knew that wasn’t who he was, or what he’s been for the Duke family. We don’t want our K to be remembered like that.”
White elaborated on the time he got to spend with Krzyzewski, who he referred to as “a man’s best friend.”
“I’ll miss those nights when you flipped on the TV and saw his little face and the non-stop barking, he was always so excited to play,” he said. “That little comb-over would wag watching the ball bounce up and down the court and it just made you melt inside.”
Friends and family of Krzyzewski across the country have been preparing for K’s departure all season, giving him special treats as a show of love and appreciation.
“We just wanted to make this last year of his (coaching) life special, because he’s given us more than we could ever ask for,” Davey, an alumnus of Duke University who now lives in Florida, said.
With K’s eventual passing comes new head-coach-in-waiting Jon Scheyer, an energetic, playful assistant who was brought into the Duke family a few years ago to help ease the transition of Krzyzewski's eventual passing.
Despite the lack of in-game head coaching experience, Scheyer has already locked in a top-flight 2023 recruiting class for the perennial powerhouse, a sign of comfort for those mourning the loss of K.
“He may not be completely potty-trained yet,” a source within the program tells EOTB. “But he’ll ease the blow of losing K for sure.”