The Duke basketball chief gave a famous one-and-done four undeniable perks.
Refs. Recruits. Satan himself. Wait, the supposed money trail of Mike Krzyzewski doesn't end there. In fact, the list seems as long as the growing list of windbags who repeat tired accusations concerning Zion Williamson as if they hold breaking news. Anyhow, here are a few more names to have allegedly worked out wink-wink agreements with the Duke basketball mastermind over the years: Dick Vitale, ESPN in general, Nike, and the NCAA (oops, already mentioned the devil).
If everything that the media and fans from inferior programs have written or spewed about the game's all-time wins leader is true — rather than just a ploy for attention and/or a byproduct of envy — then Krzyzewski is not only a Hall of Famer, three-time Olympic gold medalist head coach, and five-time national champ. No, in that case, the 73-year-old would also have to be one of the slickest swindlers the world has ever seen as he enters his 41st season at the helm in Durham.
ALSO READ: Six reasons Coach K may never retire
That doesn't appear to be the case, though. Granted, not helping the haters' dream to come true is a lawyer who was unable to avoid his personal legal troubles long enough to at all prove any wrongdoing by Coach K or Zion. More recently unhelpful is the uncertified agent whose team was unable to present allegations in official court documents without including major typos like "$4,9995.00" and without relying on links to Wikipedia pages as primary sources of evidence.
In fact, Ethics 101 would assert that the most responsible article regarding "benefits" Williamson took from Coach K is this article here. Though not what readers from Lexington and Chapel Hill were drooling to see, at least the following list is as verifiable as possible in light of its subjective nature. Now, let's begin with a look at the "extra goodie" that kicked in on Jan. 20, 2018, when the 6-foot-6, 284-pound airshow announced his "joining The Brotherhood of Duke University"...
Four benefits Zion Williamson clearly took from Duke basketball: FAMILY
Mike Krzyzewski mails birthday cards and notes of remembrance even to his Blue Devils of yesteryear who are now in their 50s. His staff is full of his former players. His wife of 51 years, Mickie, has embraced a motherly role for all who have laced 'em up for her husband. Their three daughters have each added to the familial atmosphere in one way or another. Oh, and nowadays his grandson, Michael Savarino, is a member of the program as a rising sophomore walk-on.
And unlike his counterpart eight miles down Tobacco Road, Krzyzewski has never had to witness one of his past champs publicly blast his character (see: ex-Tar Heel Ty Lawson vs. North Carolina head coach Roy Williams).
ALSO READ: 15 programs who hate Coach K's success
As a one-and-done collegian two seasons ago, Zion Williamson proudly wore the "FAMILY" shirt during warmups. Like so many other recruits who have passed through Durham over the past four decades, the personable power forward repeatedly spoke about the tight-knit bonds between current and former Blue Devils, which Coach K continually strengthens by designating this Duke basketball togetherness as a top priority. Take a look:
Heck, even if the Zion-related allegations "hanging over the program" one day prove valid, resulting in major violations and the banishing of both the Williamson and Krzyzewski families from the Blue Devil household forever — like that would ever happen — there's no doubt the three-time Naismith Coach of the Year and 2018-19 Naismith Player of the Year would still keep their friendship intact. Yup, it's a lifetime benefit to play for a man who always has one's back.
Four benefits Zion Williamson clearly took from Duke basketball: LIMELIGHT
Because of Mike Krzyzewski's unmatched level of consistent success in Durham — coaching Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millenials, and Gen Z along the way, mind you — the program draws unparalleled gobs of attention.
Whether you are an avid supporter, a vicious critic, or just a casual fan, the ratings say you're probably tuning in when the Blue Devils play. Likewise, whether a purebred Dukie, a pitiful troll, or just one who checks in from time to time, the fact that the official Duke basketball social media accounts boast more than double the followers of any other college sports team — football included — suggests you have interacted with posts from the program's creative team.
The extreme popularity, of course, was public knowledge long before Zion Williamson arrived, supporting the notion that the current New Orleans Pelicans rookie and endorsement magnet made the only correct decision if his goal was to seek maximum exposure before turning pro. Yes, ESPN would've still covered The Zion Show had it taken place elsewhere; that said, we all know the spectacle wouldn't have demanded nearly as many seething eyeballs as it did in Duke gear.
A Duke basketball benefit to Zion, indeed.
Four benefits Zion Williamson clearly took from Duke basketball: ADVICE
One increasingly difficult thing to find in this world is advice from people who don't just have their own selfish interests in mind. Before making his impressive NBA debut in January, as a guest on The JJ Redick Podcast, Zion Williamson disclosed to his fellow Brotherhood member and current New Orleans Pelicans teammate a story, the substance of which implies the 19-year-old will continue to call upon the mind of Mike Krzyzewski as life decisions arise:
"I wanted to go back [to Duke for my sophomore year]. Nobody ever believes me. They think I'm just saying that. I genuinely wanted to go back. I felt like the NBA wasn't going anywhere. The money thing, that's money. I don't play this for money. I play this because I genuinely love the game. I just loved my experience at Duke so much that I wanted to stay. But it was one of those situations where Coach K is not going to let me come back. He wants me to do what's best for my family."
Beyond just the no-brainer advice at that time to cash in, pronto, on his unique blend of size, athleticism, and skills, Coach K guided Williamson to expand his arsenal on the court by thinking beyond any self-manufactured limits. But we'll incorporate that advice into the final obvious benefit that the not-just-a-dunker took away from his days as a Blue Devil...
Four benefits Zion Williamson clearly took from Duke basketball: MOTIVATION
One could argue that just being a Duke basketball player forced the friendly-by-nature Zion Williamson to have a bit more bite to his swagger. After all, despite many of the Blue Devils' enemies eventually forgiving the Spartanburg, S.C., product for opting to play under Mike Krzyzewski, it's evident some of those who somehow still express doubt over his potential for greatness do so purely out of their indestructible disdain for his college choice.
Shortly after Williamson left Durham and became the No. 1 overall pick at the 2019 NBA Draft, the official Duke basketball account tweeted a clip of the NCAA legend recounting the ways Krzyzewski helped fuel his desire to improve:
"Playing for Coach K is the greatest because he is the greatest coach of all time. He wanted to send a message to the world that I wasn't just a dunker. So he pushed me to shoot threes, midrange jumpers, show my defensive side. He pushed me to be a better player every day. Whenever I felt comfortable where I was at, he pushed me a little harder. He'd break the game down in a way that you would think, wow, is it really that simple?"
It really is this simple: all the family, limelight, advice, and motivation that Williamson raked in while at Duke should go down as the truly priceless, everlasting benefits that only Coach K could've had the means to perfectly deliver all in less than a year.
Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more news and views regarding Zion Williamson, Mike Krzyzewski, and all things Duke basketball.