DURHAM – A 75-year-old man who recently left his job of 42 years pulls out his cellphone, eager to show pictures and a video of his puppy, a silver Labrador named Coach.
Life is good for Mike Krzyzewski these days.
“I’m really in good health,” Krzyzewski said Wednesday afternoon. “You’re not thinking of everybody, you’re thinking of you and your family. And whatever responsibility that you want, not the responsibilities that you may just have to do.
“And that keeps you fresh.”
Krzyzewski met with local media on Wednesday afternoon at Duke, which marked the first day of the K Academy. It was the first time since the Final Four that Krzyzewski has met with media in a group setting since his coaching career came to an end in New Orleans.
And the time away from coaching showed – Krzyzewski looked and sounded refreshed, talking excitedly about connecting with the former players on hand this weekend for K Academy and about moving into this next chapter of his life.
“He’s at peace, he’s in a great spot,” coach John Scheyer said. “He’s happy – was he talking about his dog?”
Obviously, Coach has quickly become a favorite member of the family.
Krzyzewski was able to soak in two of his granddaughters’ graduations recently – and by soak, it means he wasn’t sitting in the ceremony thinking about what recruiting trip to make next, or about the future of college basketball.
“I was driving home with my wife Mickie and I said, ‘You know, that was happy,’” Krzyzewski said of the graduation day. “It was interesting, I only thought about that. For most of my life, wherever I was at, I was never completely where I was at.
“You’re always thinking of something else.”
In the same vein that Krzyzewski didn’t want his staff using the word “last” to describe this past season, he bristled a bit at the mention of “retirement.”
The distinction was an important one, he explained.
“I’m not coaching anymore,” Krzyzewski said. “Retiring and not coaching anymore I think are two different things. Retiring means you’re retired, and I’m not retired. I’m speaking, I’m still doing a lot for the university.”
Krzyzewski said a lot of his time in the last seven weeks has been spent answering letters and emails.
He hasn’t been spending his time reflecting on his coaching career, the way it ended, hypotheticals of what could’ve gone differently.
“You know, I don’t reflect that much,” Krzyzewski said. “I’ve not reflected on the Vegas game, or games, the one we won or the one we got killed. Or any game.
“But I’ve reflected a lot about (personal connections) and it’s been so good.”
The only practices for Krzyzewski these days are training sessions for Coach – he has separation anxiety.
“I thought I’d never have to practice again, but (the dog trainer) takes us through a practice,” he said.