Krzyzewski brings Duke hoop dreams to life — for a price
By By JOEDY McCREARY, AP Sports Writer
DURHAM — Only Duke basketball players usually may shoot hoops on the hardwood floor at Cameron Indoor Stadium that bears Mike Krzyzewski’s nickname.
But the namesake of Coach K Court is making an expensive exception for the 80 wealthy weekend warriors who paid $10,000 each to participate in his annual ‘‘K Academy’’ fantasy camp, pulling on personalized Blue Devil warm-ups and playing for teams coached by J.J. Redick, Jay Williams and about 20 other former Duke stars.
Staging the fantasy camp, which takes place at the famous arena and at the Emily Krzyzewski Family Life Center, gives the coach a chance to raise money for charitable causes. He said he doesn’t make any money from the camp, with the roughly $750,000 in annual proceeds going to scholarships at Duke and to the downtown Durham gym and community center that’s named for his late mother.
The itinerary features not just free-throw shooting and layups but also lectures and business lessons. It also offers yet another way for the Hall of Fame coach — who has spoken to Fortune 500 companies, written books on finding success and staged an annual leadership conference — to promote the ‘‘Coach K’’ brand and broaden his appeal beyond basketball and into the board room.
But there’s little doubt that the biggest draw is the chance to play on the same floor where Krzyzewski built Duke’s dynasty, coaching teams that reached 10 Final Fours and won three national titles.
Of course, the fantasy campers get a mellow version of Coach K — not the sharply focused leader whose intense facial expressions have become a staple during TV broadcasts of Duke’s high-pressure games of February and March.
Instead, the roughly 25 former players divide them into eight teams of 10 campers each and lead them through a tournament, with statistics and results published in a commemorative media guide.
Some campers can’t get enough. Maury Fisher, a 74-year-old real estate developer from Chicago, is a guard who is attending Krzyzewski’s camp for the third time. He first decided to come to Durham after playing for the Duke coach at one of Michael Jordan’s camps a decade ago in Las Vegas.
The camp also brings together several generations of Blue Devils — from Quin Snyder, Mark Alarie and others from Krzyzewski’s early teams in the 1980s to Redick, Sean Dockery and others who concluded their careers at Duke more recently.