Throwback: When Coach K Sent a Letter of Disappointment to Michael Jordan For Rejecting Duke

Published 10/30/2020, 12:08 PM EDT
CHARLOTTE, NC – APRIL 28: Basketball legend Michael Jordan looks on during the pro-am for the Quail Hollow Championship at Quail Hollow Country Club on April 28, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)


Before he turned out to be one of the greatest to play in the NBA, Michael Jordan was a college sensation. He played for the North Carolina Tar Heels despite many offers from bigger colleges. Among these rejected offers was one from the Duke Blue Devils.

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Following this rejection, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski sent Jordan a letter, wishing him the best for the future.

He wrote, “I am sorry to hear that you no longer have an interest in learning more about Duke University, however, I do want you to know that my staff and I wish you the very best in your college career. You are a fine young man and you should make an immediate impact on whatever you choose.”

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Despite not getting Jordan to come over, Coach K showed his class with that letter. He already knew that Jordan was a star in the making and was disappointed to see him go to a fierce rival instead. Sadly for Krzyzewski and Duke, Jordan’s greatest college performance came against them in 1983, as a sophomore.

Start of the GOAT journey at UNC

Jordan spent three years at North Carolina. Playing alongside two future Hall of Famer in James Worthy and Sam Perkins, Jordan showed promise right from the start.

Worthy was the star of the team when Jordan arrived. After Jordan got into the team, Worthy said that he was better than Jordan… for about three weeks. He averaged 15.6 points in that season, while Jordan averaged 13.5 points. Both of them combined to lead the Tar Heels to the 1982 NCAA championship. Jordan scored the game-winner in the final and Worthy got the crucial steal to seal the game.

Jordan then played two more years with the Tar Heels before declaring in 1984 and starting his journey in the NBA.

Coach K later got to work with Michael Jordan

When the 1992 Dream Team was formed, Krzyzewski was one of the coaches on the team. During that time, Coach K was left impressed by Jordan’s humility and was pleasantly surprised he didn’t bring up anything negative regarding their Duke-UNC rivalry. Instead, he respectfully asked Krzyzewski to help him out with his training.

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While it may not seem like a big deal for a few, but Coach K was left touched after this incident. It is small details like this that define Jordan as one of the best the league has ever seen, not just as a player but as a person too.

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Aaron Mathew

1685 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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