Mike Krzyzewski Reveals Who Is the Greatest Duke Blue Devils Player of All Time

Published 06/05/2021, 5:30 PM EDT
Jun 3, 2021; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski talks at a press conference at Cameron Indoor Stadium announcing his plan to retire after the 2021-22 season. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports


In his 46 years of coaching the Duke Blue Devils, Mike Krzyzewski has nurtured many great players. From Johnny Dawkins to Jay Williams, to Zion Williamson, a lot of talents have come through the Duke ranks.

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But despite this abundance of talent Duke has had, Coach K didn’t have to think twice while picking the best Duke player of all-time: Christian Laettner. He also believes he owes his career to Laettner, whom he considers one of the NCAA greats.

During a recent interview, Coach K was asked what would happen if Laettner didn’t go to Duke. Krzyzewski replied, “You may not be talking to me. He was the best player, the most accomplished player here at Duke. He may be one of the top five players in history of the NCAA.”

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“We’re talking about every year Final Four, you know, National Championships. You can only win six games in the NCAA Tournament when you win the whole thing. In his four years he was 21-2.”

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Looking at the career of Christian Laettner, the greatest find of coach Mike Krzyzewski

In 1988, Krzyzewski brought in a 19-year-old Laettner into the Duke setup. The team was great, but was kept missing the mark by just one step. They had made two Final Four appearances in three seasons before Laettner arrived and the college had not won a title at that time.

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In his first season, Laettner was only the fourth option on the team. Once again the Blue Devils faltered in the Final Four. Laettner rose up the ranks in the following season, becoming the second option. However, the Blue Devils could only reach the Final Four this time as well, losing the National Championship game to UNLV.

Finally in his third season, Laettner became the star of the team. And this time, he was able to break the barren streak for them, bringing home the first ever NCAA tournament title for Duke. But he was not done here.

In his final season at Duke, Laettner led the Duke to the championship once again. But this time, he had an incredible personal campaign too, winning consensus National College Player of the Year and hitting one of the greatest shots in college basketball history. This resume is the reason why Coach K considers Laettner as the greatest Duke player and also one of the best ever in college basketball.

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Aaron Mathew

1666 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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