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'Please still be my coach' letter touches Krzyzewski

7/7/2004

DURHAM, N.C. -- Andrew Humphries was distraught when he
heard Mike Krzyzewski might leave Duke to coach the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Duke student, a Blue Devils fan since he was a kid, felt
helpless. But he knew he had to try something to help persuade the
Hall of Fame coach to stay.

So he did what any die-hard basketball fan with a connection to
the Internet would do -- he sent Krzyzewski an e-mail, asking him,
"Please still be my coach."

It was impressive enough that Krzyzewski singled out Humphries
when the coach held a news conference Monday to announce he was
staying with the Blue Devils.

For Humphries, 19, an act of desperation turned into the thrill
of his life.

"In the tiniest way, I was able to become a part of that
history and lore that is Duke basketball," Humphries said Tuesday.
"I'm not going into the record books or anything, but somewhere in
there, my name is in the mix of things that happened in Duke
basketball. So it's really special in that way.

"It's as good as it's ever gotten, outside of Duke winning
national championships."

In the e-mail sent last Thursday night, Humphries, a junior
biology major who grew up in Waynesboro, Va., recounted playing
basketball in his driveway as a kid, pretending he was hitting
shots to win the national championship for Krzyzewski and the Blue
Devils.

Eventually, he realized that he would not play for the Blue
Devils. But once he came to Duke, Humphries began camping out at
"Krzyzewskiville" to attend games at Cameron Indoor Stadium as
one of the "Cameron Crazies."

Even though he doesn't score points or grab rebounds, Humphries
wrote, he feels he is part of the Blue Devils basketball family.

"I got to Duke. And discovered that, yes, I am going to play
for Coach K," Humphries wrote. "I am going to be his sixth man.

"We get to Duke and we realize you are our coach. Not just the
coach of our team, but you are also our coach, because you believe
that we give you something no one else can and we know that you
give us something that no one ever could."

Humphries closed the e-mail with his plea, "Please still be my
coach."

Krzyzewski said the e-mail -- one of many he received while
considering the Lakers' offer -- brought him to tears and reinforced
the bond he feels with the school he had led to three national
championships in his 24-year tenure.

"That's the type of relationship that has made this place just
different, where it's not just been our team. It's been OUR team,
with everybody involved," he said Monday. "And hopefully we can
keep that going.

"If Andrew's listening, thanks a lot. You never know what's
read."

Krzyzewski was reportedly offered a five-year deal worth $40
million by the Lakers to become their coach. He declined after
spending the weekend thinking it over.

Humphries said Krzyzewski's wife, Mickie, left a message on his
cell phone thanking him for the e-mail Monday morning. She invited
him to the news conference, but he was unable to attend; he was
taking summer classes at the university's marine laboratory in
coastal Beaufort.

"She said the e-mail really meant a lot to her and her
husband," Humphries said. "When Mrs. Krzyzewski called, I got
goose bumps. I was tearing up a bit. It was unbelievable. When I
heard I was mentioned at the press conference, it was the same
thing."

The comment made Humphries an instant local celebrity. He drove
back to Durham late Monday for an interview with ESPN's
"SportsCenter" at Cameron. He also was mentioned in local
newspapers and TV reports.

"When someone's afraid, they do something to make themselves
feel a little empowered," Humphries said. "And it ended up being
so much more than that."