The No. 5 Duke Blue Devils defeated the Florida Gators 84-74 in Tuesday’s Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, a game that was held to honor a legendary man: late basketball player, coach and broadcaster Jimmy Valvano. 

Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski Sends Touching Letter To Jim Valvano

The game is played to raise money for the V Foundation for Cancer Research. Valvano, a former NC State head coach, died of the disease in 1993 at the age of 47. Valvano’s inspirational story after leading the Wolfpack to the 1983 national championship and being diagnosed with cancer in 1992 is well-documented, as Valvano gave his memorable “Don’t ever give up” speech at the 1993 ESPY Awards.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski became close friends with Valvano that year as Valvano underwent treatment at Duke Hospital, and Krzyzewski published a touching letter to his late friend through Dear World ahead of Tuesday’s game.

The letter reads:


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“Dear Jimmy,

You and I became brothers during the last four or five months of your life. You knew that you were dying of cancer. You were in Duke Hospital and we spent a few nights every week together.

We had many moments.

The very best moment though was when you said,

“I’m gonna die, but I’m gonna win.”

I asked you, “What do you mean?”

And you said, “I want to beat cancer. After I die, when we’ve finally beat cancer I want to be there.”

I was with you when you died. And I never looked at our relationship as having a last moment. I always looked forward to the next moment.

I don’t remember the last thing I said to you, Jimmy.

And the reason I don’t is because I thought you would live forever.

Love your friend,


Amile Jefferson led Duke to Tuesday’s victory with 24 points and 15 rebounds (both career highs).

”Amile played one of the great games,” Krzyzewski said. ”God bless him. He was fantastic.”

Luke Kennard scored 29 points and freshman Jayson Tatum added 22 for the Blue Devils (9-1), whose only loss this season was to Kansas– also at MSG– in the Champions Classic in November.

Twice in the final 8 minutes Florida (7-2) got within seven points but both times Kennard scored to hold off the Gators, once with a 3-pointer and again with a long layup off a steal.

Kevaughn Allen led Florida with 21 points, and John Egbunu finished with nine points and 12 rebounds.

”They were a better team tonight,” Florida coach Mike White said. ”I thought our guys were really jacked up for the opportunity. I thought Amile Jefferson was amazing, just absolutely amazing.”

Duke will next visit the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels in Las Vegas on Saturday, while Florida will visit the Florida State Seminoles on Sunday.

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 06: Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils reacts against the Florida Gators in the second half during the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 6, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

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