We've just read the somewhat anticipated Curry Kirkpatrick article in "ESPN Magazine." For those of you who haven't read it, the best way to put it into perspective is to start at the end, where Kirkpatrick writes:
At the end of the day, it seems, Duke is not much different from any other modern factory of higher leaping. "We're about relationship, not winning," Krzyzewski had the nerve to say after his massively favored team did not win the national title last spring. But try selling that to the expatriate Dookies now licking their wounds in Minneapolis, Orlando, Salt Lake City and other relationship rehab centers.
That gives you a pretty clear picture of where Kirkpatrick's coming from.
Add to that:
* Praise for Dean Smith: "widely acknowledged to have set the standard regarding early defections," "Smith's public encomiums always left sweet feelings around," "the model to follow," etcÂ Curious how Kirkpatrick criticizes Coach K's alleged private statements by comparing them to Dean Smith's public statements. Hey Curry, while you're criticizing K for not having press conferences for Avery or Maggette, would you please explain to us why then it was seemingly OK that Dean was absent from those for Rasheed Wallace or Jeff McInnis? Or care to repeat the comments Rasheed's mom and Vince Carter's mom made about Dean? Oh, that's right, Dean's not the subject of this article, but then, why do you bring him up?
* Weird alleged quotes from the players: Avery ("I didn't even start thinking about the NBA until [Coach K] brought it up."), Maggette ("He told me next year I would get 20 shots a game. Hey, if I'm starting, I'm going to get 20 regardless. Tell me something I don't know."), and Burgess ("I won't say Coach promised me certain miracles, but he did guarantee [Elton, Shane, and I] would play together.")
* Praise for Burgess' ability: "Early last season, though, against Fresno State in the Great Alaska Shootout, Burgess rang up 15 points and 16 boards while playing a tandem with Brand." There's no mention, of course, that Burgess ended up with zero points and four fouls in 24 minutes "while playing a tandem with Brand" in the next game against Cincinnati (it's also worth mentioning that Fresno State only had eight players and no big men, which is the exact opposite of Cincinnati).
* The fact that Elton Brand was never interviewed (nor for that matter guys like Chris Carrawell or Shane Battier).
* Re-hashed quotes from Will's mom and Chris' dad that you've seen before.
* And a "quote" from Coach K that, from all accounts, never occurred.
Add all of it together, and you've got the earmarks of a writer with a pre-conceived agenda and story (yeah, we know where Kirkpatrick went to school and his ignominious end at Sports Illustrated and CBS, but that's too easy).
Rather than being provocative or even original, Kirkpatrick comes across as almost comically biased against the "Dookies" (as he calls them) and unable to do more than throw in some snide comments to, what in many ways, is an already recycled story.
Those, like Kirkpatrick, who ridicule Coach K for emphasizing relationships over winning, selectively fail to recall that he often says that whether the team has won or lost. They also forget moments like when he consoled a sobbing William Avery in his arms after the Connecticut loss, was heartsick after the death of Jim Valvano and Iowa's Chris Street, or how, as we've personally seen, almost comes to tears when he speaks in private of the love for his players. Why do they insist on forgetting those moments? Who knows? Better yet, who cares? It says a lot more about those people than their carping ever will about Coach K.