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Three Things to Know About the Making of “ESPN Cover Story: Coach K” Debuting Today

Senior writer Wright Thompson on Duke's Mike Krzyzewski: “I hope people see him as a human being and not some faceless legend. None of his success was preordained.”

The latest ESPN Cover Story featuring iconic Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski debuted today across the network’s platforms.

For 42 seasons, Krzyzewski has called the Duke campus home. He’s won five national championships, second only to John Wooden. Now 75 with plans to retire at the end of this season, “Coach K” made Duke basketball a family business. Everyone’s lives are so intertwined that it’s difficult to tell where family ends and the team begins.

Before Krzyzewski coaches his final regular-season game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday versus North Carolina (6 p.m. ET | ESPN), ESPN senior writer Wright Thompson brings fans behind the scenes for this Cover Story profile. Thompson enjoyed incredible access during Krzyzewski’s final chapter at Duke, revisiting the defining places and moments in Coach K’s life with family and friends.

Thompson’s provides Front Row the top three things to know about the making of the multi-platform project.

On his favorite moment that didn’t make the final piece:
I went to the Kross/Krzyzewski family’s annual Christmas party in suburban Chicago and just loved it. These are Mike’s first cousins and their kids and grandkids. We ate pizza and Italian beef and laughed and told stories. They were all so kind.

On the level of access and time with Coach K and close family/friends:
I really enjoyed both my time in Durham and inside the strange bubble of Duke basketball. His friend, Moe, is a really great guy, so I especially liked rolling through Polish Chicago. The hardest part, honestly, was that I broke my leg about three weeks before the story ran so I was navigating Duke on one of those scooter things.

On what he hopes the audience will take away about Krzyzewski’s story:
I hope people see him as a human being and not some faceless legend. None of his success was preordained. He wanted it badly and worked and sacrificed until his ambitions became reality.

For more on this story, visit ESPN PressRoom


Neel: “The Krzyzewski story is a great example of collaboration. The idea was something Cristina Daglas [ESPN executive editor] and her team brought brought to me, [ESPN senior editor] Susie Arth and the Cover Story team. We knew we were telling a story about farewell, remembering and the end of something. But we were also encountering Krzyzewski in a moment at which he was still deeply committed to winning right here, right now, with this team in this last push. The tension between reflecting and fiercely competing just shown through every time Wright came off of an interview. Those two things were living right alongside each other and I found that really interesting.”

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