Coach K Generated NBA Star’s Career After Insane ‘Switch’ Decision – Craziest Things Coach K Did (Part 2) 

Published 09/29/2023, 6:54 AM EDT

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Coach K, a.k.a. Mike Krzyzewski, has solidified his reputation as one of the greatest collegiate basketball coaches in history. The now-retired coach led the Duke Blue Devils to five national titles during his time in charge, as well as 13 trips to the coveted Final Four. His influence, however, went beyond collegiate basketball, as he also led the American men’s national basketball team to three consecutive gold medals at the Olympics. It comes as no surprise that in 2001, Coach K was duly admitted into the esteemed Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Many of the players that Coach K took under his wing have even found international fame, making it to the NBA. Being one of the craziest things Coach K did, an insane switch decision of his led to him kickstarting an NBA star’s career.

Coach K decides to switch things up


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Coach Mike Krzyzewski once used a daring and unorthodox strategy to shake up his team in a game that has since become legendary in Duke basketball history. When Chris Paul and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons took on Duke in 2003-2004, they were suffering from two straight losses. It was time for Coach K to intervene.

Coach K began his magic when the team bus arrived at Duke University’s campus at the ungodly hour of three in the morning. He didn’t waste any time in convening a two-hour meeting with his players. However, this meeting was just the start. Little did the team know that they had a torturous and rigorous drill awaiting them later that day.


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The plan devised by Coach K to start a turnaround was aggressive. He made the decision to play four walk-ons in the game rather than his usual starting lineup, with fierce competition to choose the fifth starter. This wasn’t your typical practice; there were rigorous drills like a rough loose ball and rebounding drills, followed by layups, wind sprints and exhausting burpees. The objective was undoubtedly to fire up his team.

JJ Redick stood out as the star performer in this high-stakes competition. He made it to the team along with the other four walk-ons. This ‘switch’ in his starting team, which included walk-on players and Redick’s leadership, took on Chris Paul and the fearsome Wake Forest team.

How did the game end?

Did Duke manage to pull off a victory against Wake Forest?

Before this game, Duke had lost to Maryland and Virginia Tech twice in a row, which worried several fans. Coach K made a risky choice by starting walk-on guard Patrick Davidson in this key game against Wake Forest. This seemed unusual for such an important game but somehow, it worked. The game turned out to be a high-scoring, fiercely contested contest.


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Duke put up an exciting performance, propelled by this unusual roster and Coach K’s fervor. The five players, led by JJ Redick succeeded in limiting Chris Paul on the court, reducing his influence on the game. The outcome? With a shocking victory of 10 points, Duke put a stop to their losing streak.

JJ Redick remains, to this day, one of Coach K’s most powerful players who made it to the NBA.


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What are your thoughts on Coach K’s ‘switch’? Let us know in the comments below!


Written by:

Ranjitha Ramesh


One take at a time

Ranjitha Ramesh is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. With a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication, Ranjitha has a strong foundation in reporting and writing. Her passion for basketball, particularly the Lakers and LeBron James, fuels her desire to delve into the lifestyle and off-court activities of NBA stars.
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Edited by:

Aayush Kapoor