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April 7, 2015, Queens, NY  After the famed Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL won their fourth Super Bowl, they coined the phrase, “One for the Thumb,” to announce the accomplishment (winner of four titles) and the aspiration (only one finger left to wear a ring) .  Well, that’s what Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski achieved last night by winning his fifth NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.  His other titles were won the following years: 1991, 1992, 2001, and 2010.

Wisconsin was courageous, gritty, and more than a little bit determined; however, the Blue Devils would not be denied as they won, “One for the Thumb,” by a score of 68-63.  I am not going to talk about the game because this was more about the coach, Coach K.  He just happened to win his 1,000th game this season.  And in all places, Madison Square Garden where he won his first game.  Coach K didn’t make one assist, didn’t score one point, didn’t get one rebound, and didn’t block one shot.  All he did was inspire, push, demand, console, critique, compliment, energize, enlighten, invigorate, challenge, build, preach, teach, and reach.

Coach K took a program that wasn’t very good at a school that wasn’t really into basketball and created really good teams since the 1980s.  While other colleges have come, gone, come again, and “gone” again, duke has always been relevant.  Duke has always been a contender.  Duke has always been held to high standards.  Duke is Coach K, and Coach K is Duke.

Now, on a sour note, Duke had an incident with a noose that was very disturbing.  But that was the work of a low self-esteem havin’, self-hatin’, small-minded bigot(s).

Back to the beat.  Coach K has always carried himself with dignity and made sure the program was as dignified as a major college b-ball program could be.  Coach K loves his players, and feeling is obviously mutual.  Players know when you view them as commodities as opposed to acknowledging and embracing their humanity.

Can he get one more?  He just turned 68 this past February.  But he appears to be in relatively good health.  This victory makes Duke a good landing spot for “ballers with brains.”  Now I’m not Coach K’s agent, but he is due for a raise, and the powers that be should give him one immediately, more like yesterday.  I know he’s under contract, but his value to the university is hard to quantify.  However, if you paid him $15 million a year, that would be a bargain.

There are some teams that should make a strong run at him; and I’m not talking about college teams.  I’m talking about the pros.  First team up, the New York Knicks.  But Phil would never do that.  Coach K becomes the “Big Homey” and Phil becomes the “Little Homey.”  Plus, Coach K ain’t runnin’ no triangle.  The 76ers could sure use him.  The Lakers, the Magic, the Wizards, the Nets, the Suns, the Bobcats (MJ would never do that), the Pistons, and others could use some of that “K”oaching.

But, Coach K will stay.  It’s not about money.  It’s not about championships.  No, for Coach K, it’s about the “K”ids.

Professor Clifford Benton can be reached at

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