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Did Coach K Recruit Michael Jordan? Sort Of

Today’s Silly Controversy

2010 Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend
SPRINGFIELD, MA - AUGUST 13: Members of the 1992 USA Olympic Dream Team: (L to R) Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing, Michael Jordan, David Robinson, Earvin Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley, Christian Laettner, Chris Mullin, Karl Malone, Lenny Wilkens, P.J. Carlesimo and Mike Krzyzewski poses for a photo during the Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2010 Induction Ceremony at the Symphony Hall on August 13, 2010 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

We linked to Coach K’s interview on Colin Cowherd’s show and during his interview, K said that he had never recruited Michael Jordan.

Whereupon a letter was produced from Krzyzewski to Jordan saying that he was sorry Jordan wouldn't be coming to Duke.

So he recruited him after all, right?

Well, sort of.

It really depends on how you define recruiting. But first let’s get in the wayback machine and set it to 1980.

A young Mike Krzyzewski took the Duke job on March 18. The letter to Jordan was dated October 29, about 30 weeks after K took the job and before he ever coached a game in Durham.

Essentially what happened is this.

Like any new coach at that time, and especially a young and unproven coach, Krzyzewski surely bought lists of recruits, possibly from someone like Bob Gibbons, and just mailed everyone on the list.

That’s U.S. post by the way, not e-mail.

Remember that not only was there no YouTube and mixtapes of players, there was no Web. There weren’t even shoe camps or AAU circuits, at least not as we know them now.

Everything about recruiting at that point started first with word of mouth analysis from trusted scouts.

Five months wasn’t enough time to recruit someone like Jordan who had heavy interest from UNC and NC State although he really wanted Virginia so he could team with Ralph Sampson (for whatever reason, Terry Holland was not particularly interested).

Here’s the 1981 McDonald’s rosters. We’ll bet you every guy listed here who was not committed in the fall of 1980 also got letters from Duke. Doesn’t mean Krzyzewski actively pursued them. More like due diligence as he began to set up shop. So yes he contacted him, but Jordan wasn’t interested and that’s as far as it ever went.