More than 41 years have passed since Mike Krzyzewski coached his first game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, an uneventful 67-49 Duke win over Stetson on Nov. 29, 1980. Since then, the court, which now bears his name, has been home to countless magical moments, epic wins and thrilling rivalry games.
On Saturday, Krzyzewski will coach his final home game at Duke, fittingly against his chief rival, North Carolina, and the festivities surrounding the coach’s send-off are shaping up to be unlike anything college basketball has seen before.
Tickets for the game are fetching prices usually reserved for the Super Bowl, with the cheapest seats on Vivid Seats now going for about $3,450 as of Thursday night, with the average price nearly double that, and reports of some of the best seats on the market for more than $50,000 each.
There figure to be numerous celebrities in attendance to witness history, including a host of Duke’s all-time greats. Indeed, all 208 of Krzyzewski’s former players have been invited back for the game, as first reported by Stadium, a list that includes a host of college basketball legends.
Duke is advising fans to arrive early — something that’s certainly not a problem for students who’ve been camping out in Krzyzewskiville for days — as the school plans to honor Krzyzewski on the court before tipoff. More ceremonies and a speech from Krzyzewski will follow, with ESPN airing both events.
Duke has even partnered with OneOf, an online marketplace, to offer a collection of custom NFTs celebrating Krzyzewski’s retirement — perhaps a fitting touch, given he coached his first game at Duke more than a decade before most people even knew what the internet was, let alone a non-fungible token.
Krzyzewski, who has tried to downplay his role in this season’s farewell tour, already has received his share of honors on the road — from an on-court meeting with Denny Crum at Louisville to his good friend Jim Boeheim presenting him with a framed photo and a piece of the Carrier Dome roof in Syracuse. But each home game this season has largely served as a countdown to Saturday’s send-off, with fans packing Cameron Indoor as Duke closes in on its first solo regular-season ACC title since 2006.
Over the past two weeks, as the end grew near, numerous Duke players commented on the energy inside Cameron, but few felt confident predicting just how raucous the environment might get for a game that has no historical precedent.
“I noticed it during warm-ups,” Blue Devils senior forward Joey Baker said of the crowd during Duke’s last home game against Florida State. “You can’t really explain it, but you can feel it, and we felt it right away. I’m interested to see what it will feel like against North Carolina.”