Commentary: Coach K Staying Good for ACC


by - Correspondent -
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$40 million wasn't enough to get Coach K to leave Duke.

Just about this same time last year, I wrote the following few paragraphs in an online column concerning Duke head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and his objection to ACC expansion:

Krzyzewski, who has the national image of a kindly, almost deified bit of hoops royalty, has again proven that in reality he's little more than a selfish, basketball-only Little Napoleon.

Not only can Coach K throw around profane words in the manner of Bobby Knight - strangely without all the ESPN coverage - his anti-expansion rhetoric showed him to be little more than a hypocrite.

While he was telling national audiences that the ACC needed to remain "geographically sound" to curb travel expenses and the like, he conveniently forgot to mention this:

In the last five years, Duke basketball has traveled to Alaska, Hawaii, New York (at least 7 times), Chicago (at least twice), Indianapolis, Boston, Philadelphia, Portland (Ore.), Oakland and Anaheim, Calif., and Ann Arbor, Mich. (twice) - all during the regular season

Geography didn't matter then, did it Mike? Neither did travel expense.

At the time, I - for some reason - left out another shot or two I could have taken, the biggest of which was omitting the Blue Devils' preseason trip to England a couple of years back. That expense didn't matter, either.

Oh well, better late than never.

And make no mistake, despite the turn this column is about to take I still feel the same way about Coach K. Regardless of the success he's had, the endless stories we hear about his good works in Durham and his relationship with the Duke student body, I believe he's also a hypocrite - mostly for the reasons cited above.

I also believe the ACC is better off now that he's staying at Duke, turning down the riches of Jerry Buss and his Los Angeles Lakers. Say what you will about Krzyzewski, but even he seemed to realize that $40 million wasn't enough compensation for what he'd have to deal with out in the Valley of the Silicone Dolls.

Don't get me wrong. It was a shrewd move by Buss. Having decided to cast his lot with Kobe Bryant rather than Shaq (which is another column in its own right), Buss needed reinforcements.

He hoped that would be Coach K, who recruited Bryant out of high school before losing him to the NBA. In fact, Bryant reportedly told Buss that Krzyzewski was the only coach for whom he would remain a Laker.

But ultimately Krzyzewski chose to remain at Duke, following his "heart," he said.

And I say good for him. Really, I believe all conferences need an evil empire. The ACC's - during basketball season, anyway - is Duke. And Duke wouldn't be Duke without Mike Krzyzewski.

The Evil Empire gives fans something to chase, something to dethrone, something to scorn when and if it fails. What the Yankees are to baseball, Duke is to ACC basketball.

Well, with one difference.

I like George Steinbrenner.

Thanks for hanging around, Coach K. Taking shots at the Blue Devils wouldn't be the same without you. Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.

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