That John Wooden is the best college basketball coach ever shouldn't be debated. The Wizard of Westood won 10 national titles in 12 years and posted a 664-162 career record. But what is highly up for discussion is the second best college hoops coach of all time.
Close your eyes North Carolina Tar Heels fans, but make sure you listen. The No. 2 spot belongs to Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who on Sunday solidified that spot by becoming the first college hoops head coach with 1,000 wins under his belt.
Coach K’s resume stacks up with anybody, regardless of sport or competition level. Over his illustrious 40-year career he has compiled a 1,000-308 record, four national championships and 11 Final Four appearances. And he's not done yet. The Hall of Fame coach has hinted at retirement, but has not given an end date to his coaching career just yet. That's bad news for his peers.
The statistics are easy to get blown away by, and rightfully so. However, Krzyzewski’s longevity and ability to keep Duke men’s basketball relevant should serve as his highest honor and highlight his legacy. Imagine not only keeping the same job for 35 years, but remaining the best in the business for that long. Krzyzewski has done exactly that. The Blue Devils have never been irrelevant during his tenure. They are always among the top 25 teams in the country, and more often than not Duke is in the national championship discussion.
Krzyzewski has accomplished just about everything on the college level. He falls short of Wooden’s top spot only because of national championships (10) and winning percentage (.804). Though, there’s one glaring question about Krzyzewski’s career. Why hasn't he tried to coach at the NBA level?
Many basketball aficionados and fans have often yearned for Krzyzewski to move to the pro level. But the loyal Blue Devils coach hasn't wavered, and staying at the college level hasn't hurt his legacy an iota.
In 2004 he flirted with the NBA to coach Lakers but elected to stay with the safer gig. But what if he let it be known that he wanted to coach professionally? It’s hard to fathom that he wouldn't have a plethora of suitors. What if the second best college coach of all time got to coach LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers? Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder? Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors? The intrigue of pairing one of the best college coaches in history with the pro game's best athlete, it's best scorer or arguably its best shooter is all too tantalizing. Unfortunately, there's next to no chance it'll ever happen.
Ironically, the second-best coach in college basketball history nabbed his 1,000th victory at Madison Square Garden, the NBA's Mecca. Those of us who'd love to see what he can do in the pros should savor that fact. At least he gave us that much.