The Duke University Blue Devils trailed the St. John’s Red Storm 61-51 with 8:35 left in the second half with Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski stuck on win number 999 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It was a fitting story that he would earn win 1,000 at the World’s Most Famous Arena, but it appeared unlikely. Duke would then go on a 21-4 run that gave them a 72-65 lead and Coach K earned win number 1,000 of his Hall of Fame career.
“To win the 1,000th here, you have to be a lucky guy,” Krzyzewski said after the game. “I like my place, Cameron, but this is a magical place and we beat a really good team and a storied program.” Legendary St. John’s head coach Lou Carnesecca was in attendance. “They’ll be others that will win more, but it is kind of neat to be the first one to 1,000 wins.”
Duke Basketball standout Jahlil Okafor, who is projected to be the number one overall draft pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, and who is also coveted by the New York Knicks and their fans alike, spoke about the win after the game. “It was very special. This is one of, if not, the best arena in the world. It was great to do it in the same place (Mike Krzyzewski got win number) 903 and that was something I watched on TV, so it’s sort of surreal to think I am here right now.”
Okafor also talked about playing for Coach K. “It means a great deal for me and my family. He has even more so helped me as a man, things of that nature, that’s why I want to be by his side.” Mike Krzyzewski talked to the team about the uniqueness of the game. “He actually said he hasn’t been a part of a game like this so for 1,000 wins to never be a part of a game like we just played…it means a lot. His main focus is to make sure we weren’t stressed about it or we weren’t overhyped, we wanted to come here and finish our non-conference schedule undefeated, so he did a great job.”
New York Knicks All-Star Forward Carmelo Anthony was in attendance as Coach K became the first coach in Men’s Division I basketball to reach 1,000 wins at the place where he plays his home games. Anthony spoke about 1,000 wins for Coach K after a recent victory, and said “1,000 wins, that’s crazy.”
Melo, who played for Coach K for USA Basketball at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, where the team was 16-0 and won two gold medals, discussed what makes the coach so special. “His knowledge for the game, the way he is able to put groups of different guys together. how he is able to get guys to play, how he is able to motivate guys to go out there and play, to enjoy the game of basketball, work hard, enjoy it and have fun with the game of basketball, so that was my experience with him.”