Although it was inevitable, the retirement of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, announced recently and effective at the end of next season, came as a bit of a shock for many. A lot of people have no memory of any other coach at Duke and for others, he’s been there for their entire lives.
So after the reality set in, people, including us, started to think of ways to honor him.
Our idea was to change the name of Cameron Indoor Stadium to Cameron-Krzyzewski Indoor Stadium.
We posted a poll for it and last time we looked, the sentiment was against it. And while it’s our idea, and has been for a long time, we’re starting to have second thoughts about it and here’s why.
A lot of people are calling Coach K the GOAT. We’ve done it too. It’s not unreasonable. But it’s a problem.
Because that implies an end point that you can never surpass. And while surpassing Mike Krzyzewski would be very difficult, one should not rule out the possibility that Duke could find an even better coach.
The second part of that is that you can set people up for failure. This happened at UCLA because for decades, people expected coaches to be John Wooden and no one could. In UNC’s case, the desire to keep things in the family went seriously wrong for awhile and partly because Dean Smith tried to keep control of his program even in retirement. We think in his book, Matt Doherty even said Smith hired him, as if there were no AD (not that Dick Baddour was a particularly strong one).
The best way for someone to succeed after following someone who was legitimately great is to let them be themselves.
Jon Scheyer will have a tough enough job following a legend of the game. If he has to walk past the statue of Coach K, then past Krzyzewskiville, into Cameron-Krzyzewski Indoor Stadium to play on Coach K Court, well, it’s just too much.
So after reflection, there’s no need to change the name of Cameron. The statue could go with the busts of Duke greats between Cameron and Wallace Wade. Maybe it’s just another bust. And while we hope Krzyzewskiville lasts for a very long time, there should always be room for Scheyer City, or Lawsonopolis or whatever comes later.
But like Cameron, it should be well-lit, with very few shadows. Because young coaches, like young trees, don’t grow well with too much shade.