“The reporting and research are exhaustive and impressive. The writing is direct. The portrayal is fair, but unsparing. In many ways, Ian O'Connor's work is like Mike Krzyzewski himself: unrelenting, contemplative, purposeful. You not only learn about the coach and the man in this book, but more important, you understand him. No small feat.”
--Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN’s College GameDay reporter and New York Times bestselling author of The Last Great Game
"Just as there are all-time great coaches who go down as masters of the sideline, there are all-time great biographers who go down as masters of the written word. Ian O'Connor's Coach K is a breathtaking deep dive into a modern-day basketball legend, delivered with dogged reporting and eye-opening insights. Though Mike Krzyzewski is done with his whistle and clipboard, O'Connor makes certain his aura will forever loom."
--Jeff Pearlman, six-time New York Times bestselling author of Showtime
“No journalist alive is better than Ian O’Connor at pulling back the curtain on the inner workings of the great unknowable sports figure, and he’s done it again with Coach K. This boldly revealing biography provides a perfect punctuation mark to the career of arguably the greatest basketball coach in American history. As usual, O’Connor is the first to journey inside the closely guarded life of this legendarily stoic leader. And, as usual, the result is an enduring masterpiece.”
--Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times sports columnist and ESPN’s Around the Horn panelist
"Richly reported and expertly written, Ian O’Connor delivers the definitive biography of the iconic Mike Krzyzewski. This is required reading for any fan of basketball, leadership or uniquely American success stories."
--Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports Columnist and New York Times bestselling author
"A full-court look at NCAA men’s basketball’s all-time winningest coach on the eve of his retirement. Who would have guessed that the Chicago-born son of poor Polish immigrants with an unpronounceable surname would grow up to lead an elite private school to five national championships while amassing more than 1,000 wins and producing numerous NBA superstars? Even after a standout high school career that led to him playing for legendary coach Bob Knight at Army, Mike Krzyzewski (b. 1947) hardly seemed destined for superstardom. When Knight left for Indiana, however, Krzyzewski succeeded him and coached Army to some impressive victories, which won him an interview at Duke. Athletic Director Tom Butters chose Krzyzewski over far more qualified candidates. Though Krzyzewski didn’t consent to be interviewed for this book, he didn’t discourage anyone in his inner circle from speaking with New York Post columnist—and longtime ESPN writer—O’Connor, the author of biographies of Derek Jeter and Bill Belichick. O’Connor effectively leverages a broad cast of characters to chronicle Coach K’s rocky start at Duke (Butters never wavered in his support); the critical role of his family, especially wife Mickie, in his life and his program; his rise to the apex of college basketball; his stint coaching USA men’s basketball to three consecutive Olympic gold medals; and his fraught relationship with combustible mentor Knight. The author doesn’t shy away from Krzyzewski’s shortcomings: A fiery competitor, he can be petty and temperamental and has difficulty apologizing; as a tactician, he’s not particularly innovative. O’Connor also probes the few occasions that the program has toed the line of impropriety and highlights how Coach K leverages every possible recruiting advantage (perhaps unfairly), such as getting NBA players like LeBron James to sing his praises. He also makes a powerful case for why Krzyzewski has achieved such immense success: He’s an extraordinary communicator and motivator, brilliant organizer, and tireless worker who prioritizes family and team above all else. A sharpshooting account worthy of a champion."
--Kirkus (Starred Review)
"New York Post sports columnist O’Connor (Belichick) delivers a standout definitive biography of Mike Krzyzewski, who led the Duke Blue Devils to five NCAA titles during his decades-long tenure as coach. Fashioning his fascinating account from interviews with Krzyzewski’s friends and players, O’Connor begins with his subject’s childhood in 1940s and ’50s Chicago as 'the son of a cleaning lady' and a hoops fanatic ('I don’t think I ever passed that schoolyard without seeing him playing basketball,' one neighbor recalls). His persistence led him to captain the Army basketball team, under coach Bob Knight (as his 'much-better half on the court'), before eventually becoming coach himself, a stint which led to his joining Duke’s basketball program in 1980. O’Connor takes a nuanced look at Krzyzewski’s legendary career—from his experiences coaching All-Stars Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and LeBron James during the 2008 Olympics to the many lives Krzyzewski impacted on and off the court. The coach’s preternatural ability to 'motivate people to achieve things they did not believe they were capable of achieving' is inspiring, as is the arc that O’Connor paints of his life as 'a low-income street kid' who became 'the greatest college basketball coach of all time.' Fans won’t want to miss this insightful look at a colossal figure in college sports."