I got a chuckle.
Admit it, you probably did too.
There he was, all 72 years of him --- Coach K speedily making his way across the court at the venerable old barn Duke calls home to chide his student section on Tuesday night.
Was there a bit of grandstanding? Oh yes. For sure.
Was it somewhat over the top, even for one of the most well-respected men not just in his sport but in all of sports? You bet.
Yeah, it was odd. It was something I never thought I would see.
It was incredibly interesting to see the inhabitants of Krzyzewskiville stand down super-fast when the highest-ranking member of Krzyzewskiville peered at them, raised his voice and told them to “shut-up.”
The King spoke and they fell in line.
He talked and the minions all listened.
“Thank you, sir -- May I have another?” was the silent look on the faces of many who just moments before were in the throes of the gleeful cheers.
Wild stuff. A passion and power play right there in Durham. Coach K reminded everyone who was the real boss in those parts.
And, in the end, I think Coach K kinda got it all wrong. It was harmless and playful fun from a student section that is the epitome of what college basketball fandom is all about. Coach K just missed the mark and misunderstood what was happening. It ain’t 1966 and students aren’t going to chant “GO TEAM!” and “DE-FENSE!” when they band together these days.
Anyway, something bigger came out of all of this for me --- something much, much bigger.
Coach K is a guy (however wrong he was as he dealt with the student section in this case) that seems like he will forever have the backs of his players.
Through thick and thin, current or former player --- if you are one of Coach K’s guys, you fall into a group he will absolutely go to battle for. Even if he risks being wrong or even if there is truly no battle to be fought. That was, when you pull it all apart, the real case here. There wasn’t any battle to be fought; Coach K just thought there was and he mounted up for Jeff Capel.
Even as he wasn’t right, what Coach K thought he was doing was commendable. Because, well, Coach K thought he was right.
“He is one of us!” K shot back at the students.
This was a nice throwback to loyalty in sports, something that we don’t get too much of these days. Yeah, I get it and we all do. Capel is now a coach at a different ACC school. Capel brings the Panthers into Cameron now and he’s hellbent on beating Duke just as Duke is focused on nothing more than knocking off Pitt.
But even in that ultra-competitive world and with everything flying around in the center of competition, Coach K found a way to remember what it was really all about on Tuesday night --- loyalty and faithfulness.
He’s loyal and faithful to Capel no matter the circumstances because Capel was loyal and faithful to him by being an unswerving Duke man for so much of his life.
In the end it really was a whole lot about nothing. The students weren’t wrong in what they said and Coach K was a tad over-the-top.
What that little episode did illustrate, however, is that Krzyzewski is the kind of man you want to play for. That he’s the type of man you want on your side. And once he’s on your side, he’s there for good.