As you probably saw, Coach K got very upset with the Cameron Crazies Tuesday night after they chanted “Jeff Capel, sit with us!”
It was a confusing moment. We heard the chant but didn’t quite understand it at first. It seemed fairly benign.
Still, while we were surprised, we trusted him on it. It’s not the first time he’s spoken to the crowd and he’s usually been right.
One time, years ago, he took the mic in the middle of a game and said that someone had a laser pointer and was pointing it at players and officials. If it didn’t stop, he said he’d take Duke off the floor.
Coach K had a meeting with some Crazies on Wednesday and explained his outburst to them.
He said that the death of Kobe Bryant, who played for him in the Olympics, and the cheer directed towards Capel, which he misunderstood, had him on a razor’s edge emotionally and really, that’s understandable. On the one hand, a devastating loss of a player who gave everything to the US team and who we’re sure he counted as a friend and on the other, a perception that a former Duke player who was more than just a friend was being mocked in Cameron. That was probably compounded because of Capel’s senior year, which was difficult and being something of a father figure to Capel while his own father died an agonizing death at the hands of ALS.
The two are extremely close and Mike Krzyzewski is nothing if not loyal. And by the way one of the recipients of his loyalty has always been the Cameron Crazies.
It sounds like the aftermath was handled effectively and one hopes the Crazies understand how unusual it was for Krzyzewski to admit to being emotionally vulnerable. We’ve only seen that a few times, notably in 1995 when his career was in the balance due to a health crisis and when his brother Bill died.
At one point he compared coaching to a marriage between coach and school and that while there are ups and downs, you’re committed.
We’ve been incredibly lucky to have this man as our coach since 1980. If he gets mad at the fans once in a blue moon, well, we should probably be more concerned with the criticism more than the delivery.