Articles, Blog

Distinguished Speaker Series: Mike Krzyzewski, Head Coach – Men’s Basketball, Duke University

December 10, 2019

– Good evening. It’s my pleasure to welcome this year’s final Distinguished Speaker Series guest, and a man who needs no introduction. Coach Mike Krzyzewski. (cheers and applause) Over the course of his 39 years leading Duke’s Men’s Basketball
team, Coach K. has built an incredible legacy of
success on and off the court. The banners hanging from
inside Cameron tell it all. He’s a five time national champion, 12 time Final Four
participant, the most… winningest men’s basketball coach in Division 1 history, and a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame. Off the court, Coach K. is
the strongest ambassador and advocate for Duke University
and the Durham community. Through his leadership and mentorship, he has not only shaped the lives of his student athletes, but he’s also elevated the university’s brand on a global scale. People around the world know Duke University because of Coach K. Coach K. also has a special
relationship with Fuqua. He serves as an executive in residence, and his Center on Leadership and Ethics, otherwise known as COLE, is a core part of Fuqua’s mission to empower
leaders of consequence. It is without a doubt that Coach K. embodies these leadership
qualities that we cultivate and develop here each day. Yet among his greatest
accomplishments, Coach K. is a father of three daughters
and grandfather of nine. – [Mike] 10. – 10. Correction. (cheers and applause) A grandfather of 10. – [Mike] A natural conception. (laughter) – Please join me in welcoming the greatest of all time, Coach Mike Krzyzewski. – Thank you. (cheers and applause) – So I’m really happy to be here having started the day in India and arrived at school 20 minutes ago. (laughter) But I’m even happier to
have Coach K. here with us. I have to tell you that of all the things that we’ve done at the business school, one of the things I’m proudest of is the partnership that we have with Coach K. I thought that I would reveal a previously unknown random fact which
is, just to show you how deep this partnership
is, a number of years ago Coach asked if I would help
out in meeting with a recruit. I have to tell you that
it did not go well. Needless to say, the person
did not come to Duke. So in this partnership, Coach has since clarified our respective roles. Which is he does everything, I do nothing. (laughter) And ever since then it’s been
like we’re the dynamic duo. – It’s great, it’s terrific. (laughter) – I’m so happy. – We didn’t want him anyway. (laughter) I’d rather have you. (fake coughs) – Oh okay, I don’t remember
the thank you note, but. (laughter) So to be serious, it’s
an incredible privilege for our community to have someone who, in my opinion, is one of the finest leaders from any domain of his generation. It’s just extraordinary to
be able to learn from you. One of the things that we all share within this room is that we all chose to be a part of the Duke community and that choice can have
lifelong implications. And I want to illustrate
that by the choice that you made in going to West Point. And that, I think, has had lifelong implications in terms of
your leadership journey. But my first question is did
you want to go to West Point? (laughter) – No, I did not want to go to West Point, although I must tell you because you all are into commitment and
relationships and whatever. (laughter) Hopefully good ones. And productive. This June, June 4th, it will be my 50th anniversary for my graduation at Duke, but also my wife and I will be celebrating our, we got married on graduation day. I’m glad I went to West Point ’cause I wouldn’t have met her. And I’m also glad that
I went to West Point because it served as a foundation for the rest of my life,
including my five years as an army officer in the field artillery. I did not want to go to West Point. I grew up in the inner city of Chicago. My mom never went to high school. My dad went to two years, my mom cleaned offices at the Chicago Athletic Club and my dad was an elevator operator. There used to be people like that. I was a really good basketball player in the Catholic league. It wasn’t like recruiting now. I wouldn’t have been a pro player, but I was a really good college player. I had offers, I was probably going to go to Creighton or Wisconsin. And West Point came in. Bob Knight was the coach. When West Point came in, my
parents said you’re going. And I said look, me in
tanks and jeeps, no way. (laughter) I don’t like guns that much. They said well that’s where presidents go. My mom’s dad, and my dad’s,
their family came from Poland. So we’re, are you kidding
me, you could skip generations by going there,
and at 18 I didn’t know that. So I said no, ’cause I
was a headstrong punk. (laughter) Still pretty headstrong, overcame punk. (laughter) Most of it. And for two weeks, literally, in our flat in the inner city of
Chicago, my mom and dad would speak Polish when they
didn’t want me and my brother to understand what the hell was going on. They would go, just
pretend this is Polish. Dah dah dah dah, dah dah dah dah, stupid. (laughter) Dah dah dah dah, dah dah dah dah, Mike. (laughter) It’s true, for two weeks, boom boom boom. I said all right, I’ll go. I call it the best decision I never made. But I made it because, and this isn’t alive and well as much
anymore, I trusted my parents. I trusted them and I didn’t
want to let them down. And the many times I
wanted to quit West Point I did not quit not because of me. I did it because I was already on a team that didn’t believe in quitting. I didn’t know that. But when going through it, I did know it. It really, I never take
my West Point ring off. The two rings I never take off are my wedding ring and my West Point ring. I did take it off one
time, the stone broke, and I put it in a drawer and my wife had a Duke stone put in it. So it’s, to me, one of
the great great rings. It reminds me every day of the union of West Point and Duke and
how could that be better? But it also reminds me of
the union of me and my wife. It’s a pretty damn good set of rings. (laughter) – So you’re famously
honest with your recruits. I wonder, was Coach Knight honest with you in that he wasn’t going to let you shoot? – You know, me and Knight are,
that a whole ‘nother story. I was lucky to go to West Point and be, although COLE’s great and whatever. (laughter) No, it’s second to, it’s not the best leadership school in the
world, West Point is. ‘Cause that’s what we do. Knight was one of the
geniuses, and so I got, as his point guard and captain, and a cadet for four years, I got a double dose of greatness. And even at times when I didn’t want to get the greatness from both entities. I learned an amazing amount and I’ll be forever grateful to him. I don’t have a relationship
with him anymore, but I still am forever grateful. Obviously I’m forever
grateful with West Point, I’m going to speak to the
Corp Cadets in a couple weeks and go up there and celebrate our 50th reunion for a little bit. Not a lot. All my guys are retired,
my classmates, so they’re smoking pipes, or smoking
something, I don’t know. (laughter) I’ll find out more at the reunion what the hell they’re doing. But I told them, I said
look, I can’t spend five days up there, I actually
run a big time business. (laughter) You guys are farting around up there. I’m trying to recruit and keep our fortune, whatever, hundred company going. – Yeah. So there are three things
that you first learned at West Point that you haven taken to the next level over the course of your career. I’m sure it’s more than three, but three I want to focus on. The first one is something
that I’ve heard you say which is you will fail, but
failure is not a destination. As I think about some of
the things that you’ve done, one of the things that you’re very well known for is the idea of “next play”. – Right. – And in fact when I
met the CEO of LinkedIn, he said don’t you have a
basketball coach at Duke, he knew nothing about the
basketball team, but he knew everything about your
“next play” philosophy and has rebuilt LinkedIn
around that premise. Tell us how you came up
with the “next play” idea and how you put it to work. – Well I truly believe
that whether you’re, in your own life, you’re
on a continuum right? Whatever just happened just happened, but you’re going to keep
happening I would hope. So you never let what just happened stop you from happening again. And that’s whether with
great success or failure. When I went to West Point, I had only done things that I was good at. I was the golden boy in my neighborhood, family, and whatever. I didn’t know how to
swim, I didn’t know how, I didn’t know a whole bunch of things. Didn’t know how to tie
a knot, pitch a tent. I didn’t know, and when I got to West Point I got my butt kicked. I got my butt kicked. And so did a lot of other people. Basically I learned
that when you’re getting your butt, it’s called changing a limit. So many parents today don’t allow their kids to change limits. They’re worried about them
failing instead of learning. You learn through the experience
of failure and success. Basically they’d say get
your ass up and get going. So that’s where the failure
was never a destination. But along with that, they teach you that you don’t do it alone. In other words, use the
resources that are around you. This is a cool, we have time for a quick story, so just a quick story. They have a thing called beast barracks, I don’t know what the
hell they call it now. The first six weeks in the summer and they just knock the hell out of you. There’s a thing called
a clothing formation. So I might be in fatigues, okay, and our whole unit’s in fatigues. And we come back and
the upper classmen say you have three minutes
to be in dress gray. Holy crap. So we immediately act like animals. I have two roommates, we’re fighting, we’re doing everything, we’re trying to get in our dress gray and we finally get down and we’re all late. And so there’s a late
line and they’re yelling, but they stop, and there
are two guys who had already been in the military,
they’re down there in time. They’re killing them. And they’re killing them
because they said look, you’re either all out here,
or none of you are out here. It’s an unbelievable lesson, same thing with my two roommates. A week later we’re doing it again and we’re late, but we’re late together. This sounds nuts, but one
of the big accomplishments that summer for me was making
it with my two roommates in time, and we felt like we
just conquered the world, man. So throughout the experience
of you have to fail in order to, or you have
to look bad a little bit. That’s not alive and well. Even the kids that I coach
today, taking a realistic look at yourself is not something
they’re accustomed to do. They never put on, they don’t do Facebook, but all the stuff that they’re on, they don’t put crap on
there where they look bad. It’s only where they look
good, and so when you show them on tape how you talk to them, it’s a big change in how
you communicate with them. I was fortunate that I
learned that during that time. – How do you reconcile the tension between trying to make sure that
you don’t have people arrive at a destination of
failure and look forward versus also making sure that you remember the lessons of why you did fail? Famously, I think you
lost by many many points, maybe 43, to Virginia, and after that game someone said here’s to
forgetting this game and your response was
here’s to never forgetting. – Yeah, well the thing
that, my third year, our first three years
here we were 38 and 47. We’ve won well over a thousand games, hell we’ve played 230 games where we were the number one team in the country. We’ve been number one more
weeks than any conference. In my time here. But we were 38 and 47 at one time. And they were going to, they being there’s an Iron Dukes, they’re our fundraisers, and I created a new thing my first three years called the
Concerned Iron Dukes. (laughter) And they were concerned about
me being, no, it’s true. That particular game we lost
to Ralph Sampson in Virginia. In the Omni in Atlanta, 109 to 66. When we walked out I was like a leper. Now during that time,
my wife and one of my daughters went to an Iron Duke function, and when they walked in there was a hush because they were all meeting about how they were going to
get the AD to fire me. So when we went to eat
as a staff to a Denny’s or whatever, one of the guys from Sports Information said here’s to this, here’s to forgetting, I said
put the damn glass down. I get chills thinking about it ’cause it’s one of those defining moments where you say okay, that’s it, man. And I said here’s to never forgetting it. Literally we beat Virginia
23 straight times. It was the start of us building what we’ve become, which
is pretty damn good. Failure was not going
to be our destination. Now thank goodness I had Terry Sanford as my president, and Tom Butters as my AD who believed in me, and Tom
believed in me three times. Big. When he hired me, ’cause I
wasn’t the popular choice, then, and then in the middle of my career in ’94, ’95, I got really sick and lost all feeling and was going to give it up. He told me you get well,
we’ll wait forever for you. I’m going to cry a little
bit ’cause he’s passed. You need people to believe in you. I’ve had it. Also it’s the biggest
statement you can tell anybody. Is I believe in you. The biggest. Especially if you mean it. (laughter) And you’re not bullshitting
them or whatever. (laughter) Look, you said I love you a lot of times and you don’t mean it. But if you say I believe in you, and you follow it up, then that person is not alone in their
belief of themselves, so then when they are trying to figure out do I believe in me, if
you have someone else that does that, it gets
you over the bridges of doubt that all of us have to cross. – So second thing that you
took away from West Point is this idea of being a lifelong learner. – Yeah. – So a couple things I
want you to comment on. One is really just what happened here. Which is early in your career you had, let’s just say, limited emotional range. Where the fiery emotions were dominant. – Right. – And over time you’ve
got every emotion that’s available to you, and
you use those emotions. You are unafraid to be vulnerable, you’re unafraid to say I’m going to cry. How did you learn to
use all those emotions in a productive way when some of those, people said no, you got
to be strong all the time? – Well a big thing was being married to Mickie Marsh for 50 years. And having three daughters. ‘Cause I came from a total, my brother, God bless him, my older brother Bill, as the captain of the fire department of Chicago, passed five years ago, but it’s just me and Bill, all boys, Catholic high school, West Point was all boys, the military was all men. I learned to listen. Which we don’t do very well as guys. And I learned that there were
other ideas and feelings. It really helped me immensely. And continues to help me. The other thing is to
learn, to take a look at yourself truthfully
and say what the hell are you doing right, what are you doing wrong, to watch yourself. I started after a while watching myself coach after the season. My communications skills. I started a lot of public speaking in the early 90s, and I speak for the Washington Speakers Bureau. I would analyze what I did. Why am I doing that, or that’s good. I started to understand that you can, the words you say have to be like a big time major league pitcher. Even if you have a fastball, you throw it at different speeds. And then you come up
with different pitches. The fact is how do you use the knowledge and the talent that you have so that it’s received by the
person catching the ball? Being at Fuqua, the conferences and that, and also the speaking, I’ve learned from watching other teams, business
teams, that are startups. Trying to continue. Tough. And then I continue to try
to learn in that regard. Because it’s not what you know. It’s what your team hears you say and understands it so they
can instinctively react. And so many people get caught up with just what they know, and not how what they know is disseminated to a group, or the team that they have. I continue to learn about
that because I have to. I’m 72 years old. Zion Williamson and RJ are 18. They’re 18 years old. I’m 54 years old than them. Shit, that’s a lot. (laughter) – [Bill] It’s four times older, yes. – How, why is it that we have
an incredible relationship? I have to constantly learn how to do that, or else it’s not going to work. I think it’s a fascinating,
it’s fascinating. I love just studying
that and looking at it. And I’m going to continue to do that even, I’m going to coach for a
while more, but even after I coach that’s something I want to do. (applause) – So your ability to connect with people, one of the things that you’ve observed is that in connecting
with younger people today, you figured out you have
to make them feel to learn. – Right, right. – As opposed to just telling them. That that’s been a big shift. How did you get that insight? – And you have to show more. They’re very visual. And you can’t talk to
them for a long time. (laughter) You can’t. So you better have your stuff together. And get their attention. But also, I have an unbelievable office on the sixth floor of the
Schwartz-Butters building. It’s like a museum. With Olympics, everything. But I stay most of the
time in a small office in the locker room area, and I do that, like I just got through working out and ran into a few of my players, we have a little kitchen in-between, and their locker room, the steam room. I have impromptu meetings,
I listen to their music. I’ll put on some of my
stuff, Motown and all that. We try to connect, and I use humor a lot. Give each other a little back and forth. And get messages across that way. I have to break down the
barriers of age, and them coming in and thinking
I’m a statue or whatever. (Bill laughs) No, of being like this, Coach K., whatever the hell they think. You got to make them think I am with you. And I want you to be with me. That’s a big, and it
can’t be through e-mails and Snapchat and all the other bullcrap. (laughter) There’s got to be some personal stuff. I text them. I’m not an emoji guy, I’ll tell you that. (laughter and applause) When someone sends me– – [Bill] Was that false advertising then? – No, I’m a Bitmoji which is… (applause) I don’t understand the trail of emojis. Somebody will send me
something, they’ll send a message, and I’ll have
eight of those damn things. What the hell are you talking about? (laughter) Just put it down, man. I go back and forth, and
self-deprecating humor is good too. Where I might say man I
can’t believe I can’t, whatever it is, but humor is important. It’s really important. – So back to this emotional range thing and how you watch yourself on tape, have you watched yourself
on tape with referees? – Yeah, yeah. (laughter) – So have you tried expanding
your emotional range there? Maybe crying or– – I just wish they would do that too. (laughter) Dumb son of a buckets. (laughter) They stay the same. You know what helped me a lot? Coaching the US team. For 11 years. You get, obviously
working with those guys, we’re talking specifically about the administration of
a game with officials. One thing I tried to get across to my guys was whenever we might have a game where the referees are from Romania, Brazil, and Italy, or wherever. China, or whatever. That is probably the biggest
game they’ve ever had. I said Lebron, Kobe, they know you. Don’t look bad. On a call or anything because
they will, there’s a chance that they will go off and be hurt by that. Like in the Olympics and
the world championships that I coach, I hardly ever said a negative thing to an official. Just because I, and it helped me, I think then, in the last decade or so, change my style a little bit more. Although these officials don’t deserve it like the international officials, but. (laughter) I’m a benevolent guy. Trying to help them along. – So you mentioned before, another thing you learned at West Point which is you can’t do it alone and you need a team. – Yeah. – You have a really interesting philosophy on what it means to be
a great member of a team where you recruit people specifically for the idea that they
will be great team members, but then you tell people I
want you to have a big ego. I don’t want you to shy away
from being individually great. So how do you get people
to be team players while being individually great and bringing all that together? – Yeah, well it’s difficult. Especially more now because they want more instant greatness. So you have to celebrate
the accomplishments of everyone on your team,
like this past year, a year ago, not this past
season, a season ago. We had really good talent, but the… They were younger and
a little bit insecure. The older guys on my team
were definitely insecure. And so… It wasn’t attitude or
whatever, but we were never able to completely overcome that. So in Anawan, we didn’t
know that all the way through in trying to figure
out how can we get better. This past summer we tried,
and we did a good job, of celebrating the role of the roleplayer. Whenever we watch tape and whatever. You didn’t have to talk
too much about RJ and Zion and whatever, but you talked about Jack and Marques and Javin
and these guys, Alex. That worked, I thought, much better. And we were such a cohesive,
we had a great group this year. Not a good one. These kids were off the charts. Off the charts good. You couldn’t tell who
was a senior or freshmen when they were, how they ate or whatever, and they got knocked back, we got knocked back through
some injury adversity, and the main one being Zion being out for three and a half
weeks, and when he was. And he didn’t come back ’til post season. And we lost continuity. We didn’t have time, even
though they came close, there wasn’t time, we were never as good as we were before that. Although we were really good. But that’s part of it, but as far as working together, all
those guys felt important. We made it a point of emphasis. It’s what we try to do. – So another dimension in terms of having a great team is the extent to which you pour yourself into
that team to the detriment of other teams that you’re on, and so people talk about this in terms of work/life balance. – Yeah yeah. – And so you’ve alluded to the role that your wife and daughters have played. You’ve done something very interesting which is you’ve taken some barriers between work and personal life by creating a starting five which is you, your wife, and three daughters. And you’ve also done something which is, in a male dominated
world, you’ve brought in four women to play a significant role to give you more insight in terms of how you can do better
with your day job. Tell me how you figured that out over time how to bring that balance and insight. – Well first of all, I
married a good looking girl. (laughter) Who is so damn smart and creative. She was a stewardess for United Airlines. She could sing, she acted. She gave up a lot of that when I became the coach at West Point
before coming here. And pretty much said we
have to do this together. And then we did, and she
was so creative in what we did as a program
with banquets, posters, everything, and we had
the kids over our house. We still have the team over our house. And I saw what my wife and my daughters, their impact on my guys. I got smart girls, man. And they’re tough. They’re not afraid to tell a guy buzz off or boy, you shouldn’t do that. Why are you with that girl? (laughter) How could you be, what do you mean? You shouldn’t be with that girl. I mean I couldn’t say that to a guy. (laughter) Girls get away with
saying anything to guys. So having that around
them all the time is good. Another thing, I have my 10 grandchildren, they come to games. After a game, a bunch of
them are in our locker room and whatever, and so they’ve
created, we have a family. Literally a family. My guys, over the years
now, they’ve created this thing called the brotherhood. Which is alive and well. Where all my former players, they believe they’re part of a brotherhood. We send out boxes twice
a year with shirts, shoes, and whatever,
and whether you’re from 1983 or you’re from
2013, they’re brothers. And one of the biggest
proponents of that is Kyrie Even though he was here one year. It’s just like a family. All my assistants are my former players. That’s been a force
multiplier for us, man. They own it. How can you, in whatever
you’re going to do, have your family own your job? Going to be tough. They do. And the cool thing is my assistants and their families own the job too. And what’s really good is my
infrastructure own it also. Pretty good. Pretty good. I do it in trying to
teach that to my team. This is a pretty cool, very easy exercise. Pretend this is a piece of
paper, it’s my handkerchief. I haven’t blown my nose in it or anything, it’s clean, just so you know. All right, thank you. (laughter) Might as well have the right prop. So every once in a while, early on in the season with my team,
during the day I might in the middle, it’ll be
a small piece of paper, I’ll leave it in the middle of the floor. And then we have practice,
we have everything, and late in the day I’ll
see if it’s still there. I’m not even going to say what year it is, but one of the years the
paper was still there. The next day at practice, before practice we give them some feedback and whatever, and I said hey, by the way
you guys, did any of you see that damn piece of
paper that was on the floor? Come on now. Some of you saw the damn
piece of paper on the floor. I put it there, and it was
still there at the end. Now my question to all of you
is why didn’t you pick it up? No one’s going to pick up
their hand or whatever, so I’m going to answer that for you. You didn’t pick the damn piece of paper up because when you saw it you
said it’s not your paper. What I’m going to tell you
is it wasn’t my paper either. But it’s my damn floor. Okay? If this is going to be your floor, pick up the damn piece of paper. In other words, own the floor. It’s a subtle, but really good thing. And that’s what we’re trying to create. You’re trying to create,
all the time, ownership. When I have the privilege of talking to the military, and I
did it a lot more coaching the US team, they always
have an away game. Thank goodness right? Thank goodness. (laughter) Now I’ve talked to units that are just going to be deployed
or whatever and I said I know you have rules of engagement that sometimes you put your arms behind your back and
whatever, but understand that whoever you’re
fighting, it’s their home. Just understand that. They will have something that’s very difficult for you to create. However, if you’re a great
unit, and own your unit, you have a greater
chance to be successful. It’s really so fundamentally, I mean that makes sense doesn’t it? The thing that doesn’t make sense is why people won’t pick
up the damn piece of paper. (laughter) That to me, I don’t understand that. So I’m not going to tolerate that. You shouldn’t be here. What, do you rent? What the hell? Renters don’t win. Owners win. (laughter) Owners win. Hopefully you didn’t rent
your experience here at Fuqua. You owned it, all right? – Yes. Absolutely. So let’s talk a little bit of basketball. You went into the hall of
fame about 20 years ago and since then there
have been huge changes in the college basketball landscape and you’ve adapted and you’ve been incredibly successful
in the one and done era. You would go back in the hall of fame again if you weren’t already there. But now we’re coming up to
another transition which is the idea of getting rid
of the one and done era and letting people go right into the pros. – Right. – And of course after
Zion’s shoe explosion that noise intensified, how
can we have these people not getting paid, and so on and so forth. But I had an interesting conversation with two GMs from the
NBA where I said I assume you’re looking forward to the ability to have people come right in and they said absolutely not. – (laughs) No they’re not. – So we want, what do we know about developing young men relative to Coach K? So they’re scared to death
to enter into this era. So then combine that
with the reality which is if you go to the right program and you get the right coach that helps develop that talent that you
have, and you get exposure where the reality is
you’re getting enormous brand building opportunity
in the college game. – Right. So my question is is it completely naive to think that some people might continue to choose the college
experience in the new era? – Well the very first thing
is that hasn’t happened yet. We react to what the NBA and
the Player’s Union will decide. So that’s on the table
a few years from now. Whether they do it, they
will not do it unless the G League is developed
at a higher level. My feeling is, you see, college basketball doesn’t do anything except react. Because they have no leadership. They have kids going
straight out of high school, I coached a number of
them in the Olympics. Whether it be Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, a bunch of them who turned
out to be successful. There’d be a bunch that wouldn’t
turn out to be successful. We should be able to coordinate a plan, all the caretakers in
the game of basketball, from when a kid is in high school until he finishes at 38 or whatever it is. We should all be on the same page on how to make this the best for that kid. Because we are… We are who we are because of them. But we don’t take care of them. We don’t talk about them. When they say though Bill,
if it does go through it’ll be the end of one and done, it will not be the end of one and done because there’ll still be a kid that will come here for one year and if he’s good enough he’s going to go. Kids just go, they do it. Look, undergraduates go. If they’ve got something that’s going to make them a lot of money, tennis players, a lot of people go earlier. Remember, these kids have a dog’s life of earning in what they do. In other words if they’re
good enough at 18, and they can get two or three more years, it could be worth $100 million or more. So we should provide that, but I think… It’s not just going, it’s making it. So a kid with talent, if the talent isn’t developed enough,
and the people skills are not developed enough, the demons of not having balance will corrupt or lessen the physical talents. I’m lucky to be at Duke
because, I mean I think I teach some of these
things, but Duke does. I mean they’re around talent. They’re around every gender, every nationality, every
race, every religion. They are around the world here. And all those people
have talent, and that’s the world that they’re
going to be, it’s balance. Zion Williamson as good as, is better. I don’t know if you saw
his, when he declared the thing he put on, he said this is the best year of my life. That’s a big sacrifice. If the G League then do that, they’re not, they’re going to get less,
they’re smart enough to know that. We have developed and
marketed their players. Jason Tatum, we’re real close, if he comes straight out of St. Louis,
Chaminade High School. I think he’s still going to be good. He comes out of Duke, and it’s not just Duke, but a top program. He has a brand, he’s developed. His chance to stay and make
that next contract big, ’cause you have a graduated contract for four years, or three, at the end of three years a rookie,
if he’s good enough, if you’re Kyrie you get a max extension. But you got to make it, man. Otherwise you can wash out. So I worry about that,
and then if they do that and a kid washes out, once he’s a pro could he come back? We got to figure that out. So they don’t get screwed, you know? Somehow, but we’re not figuring that out. So it’s not happening. No, it’s not happening. For 25 years I’ve recommended that, you know who Adam Silver is? He’s the head of… He’s the face right? And he’s the leader. Who runs college basketball? You don’t know. I don’t know either. (laughter) No, I don’t know. A committee. Look, just so you know, that’s not the way to run a railroad, you know? There should be pinpoint responsibility. And then a lot of things
like this movement, it should be done with talent, knowledge, and relationships. Adam Silver, Michelle
Roberts, all the people with the Player’s Union,
they should know this person. They should be together so as they’re moving forward, we do this the right way. Men’s college basketball is
a billion dollar business that is the most poorly led in the world. It really pays for everything in the NCAA. Football doesn’t pay one cent. Now they pay a lot for conferences, but the NCAA gets nothing from football. Not one cent. Men’s college basketball
pays for everything. You would think that it would be run… By a Fuqua graduate. – There we go. (laughter and applause) So for your best teams
you’ve always talked about the importance of
leadership within the team and having essentially
a coach on the floor who can make the decisions in the moment. So how big is it for you having your point guard come back next year? – Thank you God. (laughter and applause) It’s big. (laughter) I love that kid. We haven’t had that for a while. Since Tyus and Quinn Cook in 2015. And nothing against the other guys, but no one that leads in real time, like if you eventually become the CEO or head of a department or whatever, that’s cool in what
you’re doing, but you need a lot of people who lead in real time. That will use your principle, they take care of things
before it gets to you. He did that well. Still not as well as he will. Because I still think he,
even though he commanded the respect of everybody, he didn’t know how to use that all the time and he ended up at times watching. That’s not, I’m not knocking
him, I mean I watch too. I’m going to teach him how
to have more of an influence. We have a really good group coming in. We’re not through with
recruiting, but we think there’s going to be more, and he’ll
have a big influence on them. And we’ll feel more comfortable. So when you’re developing
that in a company or whatever, it’s really
an interesting thing. With the one and done, we’ve gravitated where my best players are young. The most talented. Javin and Jack were
captains, but they weren’t, they didn’t have the oomph,
you know, to do all that stuff. Tre did and did it, it helped us. I believe next year… He’s going to do it even better. This kid’s a fabulous kid, man. I love, we are really close. In one year, it’s been
amazing, although I’ve recruited him since he
was in seventh grade. Because of Tyus. He actually, in seventh
grade, wanted to come. (laughter) He helped us with Tyus. (laughter) Then he prolonged the
recruiting a little bit. I said what the hell are you doing man? “I just wanted to be needed.” (laughter) So after I punched him, we’re all set now. – I’m going to ask you
one more question and then I’ll turn it over to the
audience for some questions. So about I think two
years ago we co-hosted the Coach K. Fuqua Center of Leadership and Ethics Conference, and the theme was the expectation that leaders of all kinds are now going to be expected to comment on what’s happening in society, they’re going to be drawn in in some way. So you talked to the people
there and you talked about how you had responded to House Bill 2 and how you responded to the controversy around people kneeling
during the National Anthem. Let’s just say at the end of your talk the audience was begging
you to run for president. (laughter) So here’s my question
which is if the unthinkable happens which is that
someday you decide to give up being the basketball coach
at Duke, can we extract a promise that you will
then run for president? (laughter) – Well I’m sure there are a lot of Carolina people that would vote for me. (laughter) When you graduate from West
Point, you take an oath. It’s an oath to serve your
country, whether it be in the service or civilian
life for the rest of your life. It’s a bond that all of
us as graduates have. So I’ll do that forever. Not in public office. As long as I have this
passion, I want to coach. We have an incredible platform that’s been created because we’ve won. The manner in which we’ve won has, for the most part, been
looked upon really good. I love that. It gives me meaning. I can’t tell you the literally thousands of letters and requests
we get during the year. And it makes you feel good to honor them. And have somebody just say that letter, that call, got me through something. To me, that’s a way that I want to serve. And where it’s not public, no one knows about it, except the people involved. It’s just like, I was talking
to my best friend today, my best friend is a guy named Moe. All my buddies have different names than what their names are. There’s Moe, Twams, Dicker, Stosh, Wally Cross-the-alley, Applehead, anyway. (laughter) But Moe is Dennis Molenski and he’s been my friend since we were six. We are great great friends. We were, he said how are… I’m Mick. I grew up Mick. Mick, how you doing? I said I’m doing great. He says well you lost. I said now Moe, come on man. How can I not be doing great? He says well, and I explained how the season ended and whatever, he says well I understand. He says I understand,
there are a few people that when we talk, they criticize. I said don’t pay attention to that. I said really, if I did this based on a claim or criticism… Bad. Just bad. I got to do it because of
what I think I’m doing. That’s cool if you think
I’m doing it great. It’s not a motivator. If there are a multitude
of people who think I’m doing something bad, I’m going to take a look at it to see am
I really doing that, or are you just jealous? What’s your motivation
to give me criticism? Or what the hell do you know? So when they have all those people on TV, look there’s a reason you’re on TV. You don’t have a job. (laughter) Right, no really, you job is because you don’t have a job and you’re criticizing people who have a job. (laughter) Bottom line, that’s what
the hell it is, you know? So I just say Moe, don’t worry
about it man, we’re good. We’re good, let’s pursue
this next team and finish recruiting and get all
these guys drafted high. Enjoy the tremendous year that we had. And then let’s have another one, man. That’s my goal. I want to have great years and I’m not going to let anyone ruin it, you know? So that’s where… What the hell, right? (laughter) And the cool thing about it is we’re the only team that starts
out the year saying our goal is to win the
national championship. So when we don’t do it then we failed. Come on. Someone says boy, that was disappointing. This season was disappointing? Where the hell have you been? (laughter) We have more Duke fans now from watching these kids and how they play, their joy. Yeah we’re disappointed at the end, but are you disappointed
about going through all that? Come on. You got to be an idiot to say that. So when you say that, put your dunce cap on ’cause I’m looking at you. (laughter) And I’m saying you’re an idiot. Now I won’t say that
publicly, but really… You idiot. (laughter) So now when I do something
really, when I screw up, I look in the mirror and say you idiot. (laughter) So I’m not just calling someone else that, I say that to myself a number of times. Anyway, I hope some of this is okay. (laughter) – Okay, so this is more
than okay, this is great. We have time for one or two questions. – [Audience Member] Hello, test? Coach, thank you for being
such an inspirational leader. A question that I have
for you, are there aspects of your life where you
consider yourself a follower? – A follower? Yeah, the main follower
I am is in my faith. So I believe… I believe in something bigger than me. And there’s, I believe… This thing lasts forever. So that’s the main follower I am. But also just in a human
race type of thing, I’m going to listen to
somebody and if I think that makes sense, I’ll follow that. I’ll follow the example. So yeah, in that regard. I also believe that as good
as you are in anything, the game you play is bigger than you. So I’m a follower of the game. Like Tony Bennett. Virginia just won the
national championship. Last year when they lost
in that first round game, we actually had an NCAA game the next day. And I called him the next
morning just to check on him. ‘Cause I think he’s really good and I think he’s good for the game. After they won, I text him
right after, the next morning. Said your kids were tough and together, they were really good. He got back to me and said thanks Coach. Really good, and then a minute
later he texts me again. And he says you know, I just got, I wanted to relay a crazy story to you. He said in 2011 or something
they’re playing us, and they’re here the night
before at a shootaround. And Joe Harris, who’s
with the Brooklyn Nets, who’s a really good
player, is on the team. They’re in a shootaround
and Tony’s not there. So the guys say where’s Coach Bennett, where’s Coach Bennett? And they look and he’s in our stands, right below our national
championship banners. Then he starts yelling, he says
this is where we want to be. It’s a cool story. He said I just want you to know because what you’ve done in your
career has helped inspire me. I said well that’s crazy, and then I, he had also mentioned, he said I never thought that I would be in this club. The national championship club. So I text him back, I
said it’s a crazy story. Unbelievable. And I said by the way,
welcome to the club. We expected you to be here. In fact, we expect you to
be here multiple times. Congratulations and enjoy it with your family and your program. I think in any profession, look, it doesn’t mean you’re not competitive, but there are other people who do it well. You can say someone was lucky ’cause they missed a free
throw and they got this. Well you’re lucky too. But he’s really good. I know we’re really good. And we should promote the game. The game, we are all followers, and privileged to be the
followers, of a great game. And we need to take care of it, especially if we have the status. Actually I had him on my
Sirius XM show the next day and I said you know,
you got to do more now. You got to do more for the game. Your platform’s bigger,
people really admire you. You’re not like me and Boeheim, we’re not very good looking, you’re good looking. (laughter) Had to throw Boeheim in there. (laughter) I think I’m a little bit better looking than him, but maybe not as smart. Or as good a personality,
but that type of thing. Yeah, we’re all followers in some respect. – Okay, last question. – [Audience Member] Thank you, Coach K. I really liked your response
to your friend Moe’s question, so the question that I
have is when RJ Barrett and your players get
criticism, what’s the guidance that you give them, and
any other kind of guidance that you give your players who are now 18 years old, but suddenly have millions of followers, tweet mentions, et cetera? – Well that’s a good question,
especially in today’s day. It’ll only get more where… When they do make a mistake,
and we lose, I got their back. We win and we lose, I’ll
tell them, I tell them you want to be on this big stage, just… Do what I’ve just talked
about and be your own judge. The thing with social
media is a huge thing. We’re able to handle it better, to me, if I didn’t coach, maybe
even while I am coaching, I would like to investigate what it’s doing with young teenage kids. All I know is that two of my
grandkids are twin girls at 15. They’re, it’s a crappy world out there. How do you stand up to social
media criticism for them? It’s easy for RJ, he’s going to make a zillion bucks and he plays at Duke and we can just tell
them to all go to hell. (laughter) No, really. We’re good. And we’re accomplished and
we have a program, come on. So say what the hell you want,
we’re going to be all right. But if you’re a 15 year
old kid, and somebody puts on a group chat for
your class, like Carly is really fat, or she
wears transgender clothes. What do you do? That happens, by the way. Crap like that. How do you… Because I’m going through these things with my grandkids now, the amount of social pressure on kids today, before they have accomplished, RJ has accomplished, is
really one of the things in our society that we have to, as teachers, be able to handle. It’s a crisis, I think. It’s a real crisis. That’s the thing, if I was
going to study something or whatever, I’d like to
try to figure that out or give knowledge to teachers today at that level of how… How they can help their students. Because if Carly and Emmy are in a better state of mind,
they’re going to learn what you’re teaching them better. If they are, while they’re in school, the victims of really bad social media stuff, no way. No way will they learn. So part of our educational
process, and the other thing is teaching people not to be mean, we have the leader of our country
being so damn mean and a lack of values in what he says. It’s a horrible example. And everyone can say what things are happening with economy and whatever, I worry about our value
structure in our country. Where you can get away with saying anything because you have that spot. I think it’s bad. In fact I don’t think, it is bad. It is really bad. All I know is our country
has been built on values. A belief in values. If we sacrifice values for money or power or whatever, like really, even in our own, how can we bipartisan? How can we sit and this whole side thinks one thing, you got to be kidding me. You mean there aren’t some
thing you think the same on? (laughter) Are you guys idiots,
are you people idiots? (laughter) What the hell is happening man? When people go into
schools and shoot people, are we not, why would anybody
need an automatic weapon? To hunt? What the hell, is there a herd of buffalo coming right at? (laughter) Just some of this crap makes, it pisses me off, I tell you what. Now it sounds like I’m
running for something, but. (laughter and applause) At the end of the day… When you look at the history of the world, governments and countries
that have collapsed have collapsed as a result
of a lack of values. That’s a common denominator. And we should be the leaders in that. Right now we’re not. I don’t know who is, but we’re not. That sucks. To me that sucks, as
a West Point graduate. I’m not big on that. Sorry to go off on that. And if you don’t agree with
me, that’s fine, but… What I’m saying is right. (laughter and applause) At least I have a conviction right? (laughter) – So we’ve actually come full circle where in fact we started with these values that you’ve brought
forward from West Point, and here we are all in the room, we have values that we share being a part of this amazing Duke community, and I hope you bring those
values forward in your lives. And with that. – And good luck to all of you. (applause) – [Maggie] Coach K.,
on behalf of the whole Fuqua community, thanks
so much for joining us tonight and capping off
a great year for DSS. It was a very thoughtful conversation, including some great
insights on emojis as well. – Yeah, well thank you all. – [Maggie] Please join me in giving Coach K. one more round of applause. – Thank you. (applause) Thank you.

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  • Reply Jason Lind September 12, 2019 at 4:30 am

    Everything a West Point graduate should be. A natural leader on and off the court.

  • Reply Joel Vega November 28, 2019 at 3:42 am


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