the relationship between bob knight and mike krzyzewski began as a relationship between teacher and student. Knight was Krzyzewski’s trainer in the Army from 1966 to 1969. But when Krzyzewski took the reins from Duke and became a rising star in the trainer ranks, the tone gradually changed.
Ian O’Connor’s new book “Coach K” details the contentious relationship that ended when Krzyzewski said he was “finally done with Coach Knight.”
a sports illustrated article from 1987 caught knight’s eye before indiana’s meeting with duke in the 1992 final four.
“in 1987, indiana beat duke in the midwest regional semifinals, a melting pot that a friend of krzyzewski describes as the ‘divorce’ between the two coaches, because krzyzewski desperately wanted to eliminate the notion that he was nothing without Knight’s patronage,” the article said. “since then, coach k has taken every opportunity to highlight their many differences while still being on the gentleman’s good side, wherever he is, no doubt a more difficult task than teaching dozens of trophy makers how to spell their name”.
before the national semifinal game began, o’connor says knight handed special assistant to colonel tom rogers an envelope and asked him to give it to krzyzewski. Duke held off Indiana 81-78. After the game, Krzyzewski approached Caballero for the traditional post-game handshake.
“only the gentleman didn’t miss a beat when he grabbed and released krzyzewski’s hand,” o’connor wrote. “It was a handshake from a car, meant to send a clear and cold message. Coach K said a few words when his hands met; the losing coach didn’t seem to say much of anything at all. krzyzewski looked shocked as he walked away.”
After Knight addressed the media at a post-match press conference, he congratulated the waiting Duke players, but “passed by (Krzyzewski) without saying a word or shaking hands.”
“knight wrote that if krzyzewski wanted to break up their relationship, that would be easily arranged,” o’connor wrote. “‘He wrote that you should remember how (expletive) you got your job,’ said a well-known friend of both men.”
o’connor wrote that krzyzewski “had tears in his eyes and he sure didn’t look like a man who had just advanced to the national championship game for the third year in a row. when his wife mickie asked him what was wrong, krzyzewski replied , ‘gentleman,’ and then told him about the note.”
O’Connor details additional breaks in the relationship, including Knight’s anger that Krzyzewski didn’t accept his offer to help him scout Team USA. uu. before the 2008 olympics.
“knight said: ‘you know what, mike, if you want, I’ll go there with you. I will explore the other teams. I’ll do this, I’ll do that, and we can talk about the other team before games.” and he never responded to her, which was literally the worst thing he could have done. … The coach said that he did more (expletive) for (krzyzewski) than for his own children, or as much.”
But the final break in the relationship, O’Connor says, came in 2015. Knight was being honored by his former Army players in Pinehurst, North Carolina. krzyzewski appeared.
“And it was a disaster,” O’Connor said, quoting Krzyzewski’s former army partner, John Mikula.
“According to people in the hotel ballroom where the event took place, Knight was holding court with friends at his table when his former point guard approached,” O’Connor wrote. “Mike walked in and said, ‘How are you, Coach?'” recalled Jim Oxley, Krzyzewski’s close friend and former perimeter teammate. ‘and (knight) just barely hesitated and went on with his story, that sort of thing. that was the start of it all.’”
mikula told o’connor that knight was sitting at a corner table with several ex-army trainers when krzyzewski approached him and “knelt down just to see him face to face, and everyone else went on with their conversations”. . mike got up, walked away, walked over and stood outside the room and said, ‘that’s the last (expletive) time.’ that’s all.’
“never came up with the family again. that was it. it was clear. he finally said, ‘okay, that’s it,'” krzyzewski’s son-in-law chris spatola told o’connor. “he finally broke up with coach knight.”