My first experience with Mike Krzyzewski was as a Company mate the first two years, before I was shuttled off to a new Company. The first plebe year re-sectioning for English class was alphabetical by last name. There were “J” and “K” names in my section. The instructor wanted to make sure he said everyone’s name correctly, and when he came to Mike, he asked how to pronounce it. After the instructor tried several times, he said, “I’ll just call you Mike,” and he did.
My parents and younger brother and two sisters were avid Army sports fans, as was I. My parents went to Mike’s wedding, and all of us followed his playing and coaching career both at WP and Duke. I enjoyed watching him make 11 points in an Army-Navy game. The best as a coach was the 104-103 Duke over Kentucky in overtime in 1992.
In 1978, living near Rochester, NY where I worked, I was surprised to get a phone call from Mike. At that time, Mike was coach of the Army team. It was the opening game of the season, and Army was going to play the University of Rochester on their court. Mike said he was sure we would win, anyway, “But, Bobby, can you get a scouting report for Rochester? We don’t know anything about them.” I said I would see what I could do. That afternoon, scouting reports for all the local teams were in the afternoon paper, so I sent it to West Point. Mike sent me a ticket and Army won by 20 points. Mike spoke briefly to me and many local high school coaches he knew, too, as he walked to the locker room after the game.
Years later, in the early 90s, Duke was playing in a tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City. I was working for West Point Admissions and was taking a plane to a Winter By-Invitation meeting in the mid-west. Arriving at Newark Airport with plenty of time to spare, I strolled through the area. At a gate that was otherwise unoccupied, there was Mike talking into a microphone, responding to questions for a weekly radio program called “This Week in the ACC.” I sat way off to the side, and when the taping was over, Mike came over for a nice chat.