NEW YORK -- After he'd hugged Bob Knight and shaken hands with Mark Emmert and met with the media and even cried a few tears of joy, Mike Krzyzewski made his way into a makeshift room with walls of blue curtains where around 25 former Duke Blue Devils -- everybody from Shane Battier to Jay Williams and Grant Hill to Bobby Hurley -- had convened to celebrate what their coach called a "program moment."
Krzyzewski walked to the middle of the room. The players surrounded him just like the old days.
"I loved coaching every one of you guys," Krzyzewski told them. "You made it so easy."
Michael William Krzyzewski became the winningest coach in NCAA Division I men's basketball history late Tuesday thanks to a 74-69 victory over Michigan State. It was his 903rd career win. He'll get his 904th on Friday against Davidson, his 1,000th at some point over the next few years and eventually retire with so many wins that his record will likely never be broken.
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Not bad for a guy who was 111-106 through eight seasons as a coach.
And it's fair to wonder where Krzyzewski would be had his career started in 2005 as opposed to 1975, because these days a young coach who doesn't post a winning record in ACC games in any of his first four seasons might not get a fifth. But the administration at Duke recognized it had something special in Krzyzewski despite a career record suggesting otherwise, and the patience paid off. Four national championships and 11 Final Fours later, Krzyzewski is widely considered among the brightest basketball minds in the world, and he's now won more games than any other person who has ever coached Division I men's basketball.
Knight previously held the record.
That's K's old coach.
The two men visited immediately after the buzzer. "I just told him, I said, 'Coach, I'm not sure people tell you this, but I love you and I love what you've done for me. Thank you,'" Krzyzewski later recalled. "And he said, 'Boy, you done pretty good for a kid who couldn't shoot.' I think that means he loves me, too."
So now life will get back to normal.
And that's fine with K.
Though he seemed to genuinely cherish this moment, the truth is that Krzyzewski receiving more attention for a career milestone than for what's actually happening right here and right now with this basketball team flies in the face of the principles that have made him consistently great for three decades. Krzyzewski would much rather spend his time trying to figure out how to get Austin Rivers comfortable than talk about what this win means now and what it might mean later. That's just how he's wired. And that's why he didn't claim to be happy. Or joyful. Or even proud after notching No. 903.
The word he used was "relieved."
"There's been too much attention focused on me for this past week," he said. "I've gotten too much [attention], and with the NBA not being there I've gotten more [than I would've otherwise]. It's kind of like [when I was offered the Lakers job] a number of years ago. There was nothing else going on, and all of a sudden that became huge. This has become bigger with time on our hands. So to me it's just more of a relief that I can get on to the next thing."
The next thing will, of course, be film work.
Then Friday's game against Davidson.
Krzyzewski will coach that game, probably win that game and take the record from 903 to 904. When he'll stop -- and, by extension, where the record will stop -- is anybody's guess because he's just 64 years old and doesn't seem anywhere close to retirement. Krzyzewski could coach another eight years easy, win another 200 games and go above 1,100. That'll make it difficult for anybody to catch him. Older guys like Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun will never get there. Younger guys like Brad Stevens and Josh Pastner have a long ways to go.
This record might really be unbreakable.
Which is why it's a remarkable achievement.
And even the man who achieved it isn't quite sure how it happened.
"I just coached every game the same," Krzyzewski said. "And then they just started adding up."