Two basketball coaches will be honored as the 2011 Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year – Mike Krzyzewski and Pat Summitt – Sports Illustrated announced today. This puts the pair in rare company with John Woooden and Dean Smith as the only other basketball coaches to be honored with this award since its inception in 1954.
The all-time winningest men’s and women’s basketball coaches are not necessarily earning this honor based on wins, but rather the initial guiding principles the award itself was based upon. The magazine’s editors have chosen each honoree based on the principles established in 1954, when runner Roger Bannister was honored as Sports Illustrated’s first Sportsman: “While the victory may have been his or hers, it is not for the victory alone that he or she is honored. Rather, it is for the quality of their effort and manner of their striving.”
In fact, aside from joining elite basketball royalty by being named this year’s Sportswoman of the year, Summitt joins a select group of females that have been recognized with this award. The last set of women honored as Sportswoman of the Year was the 1999 US Women’s National Soccer Team, 12 years ago. Prior to that, other women who have received this honor in its 58 years are Chris Evert (1976), Mary Decker (1983), Mary Lou Retton (1984) and Bonnie Blair (1994). Rounding out the list of female recipients is Billie Jean King, the winner in 1972 along with Coach Wooden.
Summitt and Krzyzewski will receive their honor by SI in Tuesday evening event in New York City.
Excerpts from basketball Hall of Fame senior writer Alexander Wolff:
The legacy of Summitt and Krzyzewski goes far beyond their record-breaking victory totals – “More than that-so much more-are the roads each has traveled over the course of careers that can be measured in Presidents Met on White House visits with Team (four in her case, three in his). For their endurance, for their adaptability, for their genius for hatching from adversity even more success, and for their willingness to take up causes beyond the comfort of their own campuses-indeed, for modeling what it means to be public diplomats as well as great coaches-we honor them as SI’s 2011 Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year.”
“In the end it may simply come down to this: Pat Summitt is a woman secure enough to draw from her masculine side. Mike Krzyzewski is a man secure enough to draw from his feminine side. In their respective modulations, they’ve chosen not to overlook half of what it means to be human. And by doing so they double the chance that they’ll unlock what human beings are capable of.”