Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski drilled that point home when he came to New York this week to accept Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year award. Speaking to an audience that included a few other champions--Chris Evert, Wayne Gretzky, Sugar Ray Leonard, and the University of Tennessee's Pat Summitt, who is SI's Sportswoman of the Year--Coach K told a story that explained who gave him what it takes to be great.
In the summer of 1992, when he was still in the glow of Duke winning back-to-back national championships, Krzyzewski was sitting on his porch in North Carolina with his wife, his three daughters and his mom. "Mike, why you?" his mother asked.
"What do you mean, Mom?" he replied.
"Why were you the one to win two national championships?" she said, in a way that only a mother could ask a man who was on his way to becoming the greatest coach in the history of men's college basketball.
"Mom, 'Why me' is you." Coach K explained. "I never thought I could lose because of you."
The best advice he ever got, he told his mother, was something she had said to him before he started high school. "You said to make sure that I only let good people on my bus.
"And if I ever get on someone else's bus, make sure to take it great places."
If you read business books, you may realize that another leadership evangelist named Jim Collins must have caught wind of the wisdom of Celestina Krzyzewski, a Mexican immigrant cleaning lady who bred the world-famous Coach K. To this day, after 40 years of coaching collegiate basketball, son Mike deploys Celestina's advice to breed his own champions. Coach K tells his Duke players: "I want you on my bus."
And as SI writer Alexander Wolff details in this week's cover story, Krzyzewski, who at age 64 has 907 Duke wins on his scoreboard, tells his players: "If you own the program, you know every person on the bus. Who cleans our locker room? Felipe does. Who cleans our practice facility? Stephanie does. Who cleans our offices? Celestina does."
Coach K is a natural storyteller. Celestina...Anyone who really knows the guy knows who he's talkin' about.
"It's not just about talent, it's about character."
-- Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who became the most winning coach in NBA history Sunday night when his team beat the Orlando Magic 99-86 in Game 5 of the Championship series.
Jackson, who now has 10 NBA Championships, was talking about starting point guard Derek Fisher, who's been knocked for being too old, too short, and too slow. But Fisher makes 'em MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Jun 15, 2009 6:23 PM ET
"Is it authentic? Money is not the issue...I don't want to do it if it doesn't feel authentic."
-- NBA star LeBron James in a 2007 Fortune cover story. Last night, James became the fastest player in NBA history to score 12,000 career points--at the ripe age of 24 years and 35 days. He eclipsed Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who held the record at 25 years and 220 days. MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Feb 4, 2009 6:53 PM ET
"You've come a long way, baby."
That was one of many heartfelt messages that Robin Roberts, co-anchor of ABC's Good Morning America, shared with the WNBA and its guests last week at in San Francisco. The WNBA's Inspiring Women luncheon was held to honor Roberts and send the U.S. Women's Olympic Basketball Team off to Beijing.
Roberts was talking primarily about the growth of the women's pro basketball league. Game attendance and MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Aug 6, 2008 1:00 PM ET
"Proximity is power. Give yourself a chance to win by keeping the score close."
-- Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts offered this insight to guests who honored her at yesterday's WNBA Inspiration Award luncheon, which was also a send-off for the U.S. Women's Olympic basketball team. Roberts remembered receiving this advice from coaches while playing for Southeastern Louisiana University. (She's one of only three Lady Lions to score 1,000 career MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Jul 31, 2008 2:59 PM ET
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