Wayman Tisdale Humanitarian Award: Mike Krzyzewski recognized for work off the court
Coach K says: “If you can help in the fight against cancer, or can help build a children's hospital, or have a community center in inner-city Durham — like I do with the Emily Krzyzewski Center — those are things you should do.”
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was in Oklahoma City on Monday to receive the Wayman Tisdale Humanitarian Award, which recognizes “an individual involved in college basketball who has made a significant positive impact on society.”
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Krzyzewski's on-court accomplishments are lengthy, as the winningest coach in NCAA men's basketball history. Off the court, his charitable activities have included the establishment and funding of the Emily Krzyzewski Center, a community center in Durham, N.C., named after his mother; as well as active fundraising and support for the Duke Children's Hospital, The Children's Miracle Network and the V Foundation for Cancer Research.
Coach K talked on a number of topics:
What are your memories of Wayman Tisdale?
“I knew him a little bit, because I was on the Olympic staff as an assistant in 1984. I just think he had great talent, great charisma. And because of his ability to handle the ball, for a big guy like that, and a guy with personality, he was very unique. And he was a terrific pro. And he took his talents to music and was unbelievable. He was just always a terrific guy. And that smile of his and personality made everyone feel good whenever they were around him.”
Does the Freshman of the Year Award fit him?
“Oh yeah, he's one of the great players in the history of our game. I think when you look at the players of the 1980s, there were so many great players, probably more than in any other decade. A lot of that had to do with guys (who) didn't go to the NBA early during that time. Wayman's right there with anybody in that decade, so he should be considered as one of the great college players of all time.”
What does it mean to have your name attached to this award?
“A tremendous honor, because as good as he was as a basketball player and a musician, he was a better human being. It's quite an honor for me. When he came into a room or came onto the court, he brought that big smile, charisma and an attitude of, ‘What are we going to get done.' He was a tremendous human being. I'm glad the award is named after him. And I'm proud that I'm one of the recipients and able to join his team.”
You've been honored many times, but how special is it to be recognized for work off the floor?
“Anyone in sports who has won, whether it is a player or coach, has to feel very fortunate that they not only win, but they develop a platform. What do you do with that platform? Really, you can do so much, because people look up to you. They listen to you. So if you can help in the fight against cancer, or can help build a children's hospital, or have a community center in inner-city Durham – like I do with the Emily Krzyzewski Center – those are things you should do. You just should do them, because you have the platform and the ability to get them done. I think Wayman Tisdale was that type of person, and there are a lot of people in sport who do that. I'm just trying to do what you should be doing as a human being. If a lot has been given to you, then you should do a lot with what has been given to you.”