CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. Pat Quinn Saturday bestowed the Order of Lincoln on eight people with ties, past or present, to Illinois. The first to receive it, at a noontime luncheon, was the winningest basketball coach in major college history — Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.
Krzyzewski used the brief trip to revisit his Ukranian Village roots.
First Coach K drove north to Saint Adelbert’s Cemetery, in Niles, where his parents and brother are buried and he met with his sister-in-law. Then it was back to the former site of Archbishop Weber Catholic High School, from which he graduated in ’65. After that, it was back to his old neighborhood.
He said that he drove to the playgrounds at St. Helen’s School, at 2347 W. Augusta Blvd., and the Columbus School, at 1003 N. Leavitt St. He said those were the schools where he used to “dream big” shooting baskets as a child, always pretending that a championship was on the line and he had the ball with seconds to go.
Krzyzewski said he was proud of the fact that he did so driving, and making good time by staying off of the expressways.
He drew laughs when he said, “I had to maneuver because the roads are closed on Augusta Boulevard but I did it because I’m a city guy and I know how to do it.”
Outside of the Art Institute ceremony, his past called to him again. The Polish Constitution Day parade was underway on Columbus Drive. It’s a parade in which Krzyzewski marched as a child. He said he is proud of his Polish heritage and would love to return.
“To be the grand marshal of it sometime would be a great, great honor,” he said.
He is looking forward to the chance to coach the U.S. team against Brazil in August at the United Center, about a mile and a half from the home in which he grew up, at 2039 W. Cortez St. But he had to leave quickly after the luncheon to host a fundraiser for the center at Duke named in his mother’s honor. The Emily Krzyzewski Center helps to prepare underprivileged teens for college.