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Coach K’s ESPN Game Plan
Stream the ACC Network and a documentary film on the iconic coach.
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Mike Krzyzewski—known affectionately as Coach K—has won more games than any coach in the history of college basketball. He’s led the Duke University Blue Devils to a dozen Final Fours, a dozen Atlantic Coast Conference championships, 15 ACC Tournament championships, and five NCAA national titles. He also garnered three Olympic gold medals as coach of Team USA.
But back in 1982, he was on the verge of losing his job as Duke’s head coach. The documentary The Class That Saved Coach K, streaming exclusively in the ESPN app, tells the story of that tumultuous period and the career-salvaging team.
We got a play-by-play from Coach K before the release of the documentary and the launch of the ACC Network in the ESPN app.
The Class That Saved Coach K is premiering soon. Where does it sit in Coach K lore?
Entering my fourth year at Duke, a lot of people wanted me to be fired. And I would have been if the 1982 recruiting class had not been so good.
I got the job late in terms of recruiting in 1980, and in 1981 we missed out on every big recruit. But in 1982, my third year on the job, we were able to recruit the top-ranked class in the country.
That class went from went from winning 11 games as freshmen to going 37 and 3. By 1986, it was ranked No. 1 in the country but lost in the national championship game to Louisville. They became the blueprint for how we recruited and developed teams over the next three decades. So they not only saved me from being fired, they helped build Duke basketball to where it is today.
The series Earn Everything in the ESPN app offers a behind-the-scenes look at your 2018–2019 team, while The Class That Saved Coach K documentary focuses on Duke in the 1980s. How does it feel to be able to stream such a broad overview of your career?
Our thing is to always look forward, not to look back too much. We’ve had incredible moments with national championships, No. 1 rankings, and huge games. Every season, we want to share those sort of moments with the upcoming group.
It keeps me young. I’m about to start my 40th year at Duke, and I feel as passionate as ever. At 72, to be able to feel anything is good, and I know I’m in a special place with some incredible young men.