Well this is going to be fun around here: former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is the 2022-23 recipient of the Dean Smith Award.
This is given to the coach who “embodies the spirit and values of the late Coach Smith.“
Heads are exploding across
Chapel Capel Hill as we write this: “K? Embody Dean Smith’s values? But he curses!”
Well f*** yeah he curses. He also considerably out-achieved Smith in the end.
Jokes aside though, we’re sure this means a lot to Coach K. Early in his career, he was chasing Smith and it publicly frustrated him.
Later, when he achieved parity with Smith and UNC, Krzyzewski grew more appreciative of Smith’s brilliance. He was famously loyal to his players and had many good qualities that the rivalry tended to obscure. Perhaps most importantly, Smith consistently challenged the segregation that was in place when he came to Chapel Hill in 1958.
He also was the coach who really pushed the USA Basketball to pick Krzyzewski to coach the Olympic team.
Over time, they became good friends and near the end of Smith’s life, when both families were at the beach, Krzyzewski told Smith that he loved him.
Coach K famously said that in all his 42 years at Duke he only went to Capel Hill 42 times, meaning only for games.
But he did make a 43rd trip, for Smith’s funeral service, and on that occasion, he wore a Carolina blue tie.
These guys were bound to each other, so it’s really appropriate that K got this honor.