For this writer’s money, there has not ever been a better college basketball coach than Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.
Rarely has he made a misstep as silly as the one he did in the press conference on Thursday night following Duke’s 82-68 loss to Oregon.
Let’s set the scene. On Oregon’s final possession of the game, Dillon Brooks — following orders from his coach Dana Altman — went up for a 30-plus foot 3-point shot that went through the bottom. Brooks celebrated by doing sort of salute at center court in excitement.
Following the game, in the handshake line, Coach K went up to Brooks and appeared to say something. In the locker room after the game, Brooks was asked what Krzyzewski said.
“Coach K is a legend. He just told me that I’m too good of a player to be showing off at the end,” Brooks said. “And you know, he’s right. I gotta respect Duke. I’ve gotta respect them. And you’ve gotta learn from these things. He’s one of the greatest coaches. Coaches some of the greatest players. And you’ve just gotta keep that in mind. But at the same time, that’s my fire, that’s my passion. That’s what got me here today. So I’m going to take what he said, but I’m gonna keep doing me.”
Krzyzewski was asked about Brooks’ answer in his press conference. Krzyzewski, clearly perturbed by the question, answered with denial.
“I didn’t say that,” Krzyzewski said in the postgame presser. “You can say whatever you want. Dillon Brooks is a hell of a player. I said, ‘You’re a terrific player.’ And you can take whatever he said and then go with it, all right?”
Except, Krzyzewski clearly did say something beyond that. We now have proof. The production crew at CBS pulled the audio of what was said in the moment that Brooks and Krzyzewski shook hands. Here’s what it is.
Krzyzewski says, “You’re too good of a player to do that. You’re too good of a player,” while Brooks apologizes immediately and says it was his bad.
So, basically, exactly what Brooks said Coach K said and exactly what Krzyzewski denied happened in the post-game press conference.
Look, this is but a blip on the radar of Krzyzewski’s magnificant career. But man, it’s really not a great look. Not only is it not necessarily Coach K’s place to lecture a kid on the opposing team about showing up his team after a loss, but it’s also unbecoming from Coach K to lie about it in the post-game presser. Simply put, even just from a public relations perspective, this was the exact opposite way to handle things post-game.
Kudos to Brooks to handling this throughout as well as he did. Coach K might have a bit of explaining to do on this one.