Tuesday, November 22, 2011


It has not been a good time for college coaches recently.

Last week we had the Penn State fiasco. This week, my own beloved Syracuse University came under the spotlight with new allegations against Associate basketball coach Bernie Fine. And just a few days ago a plane crash took the lives of two Oklahoma State coaches.

One college coach fared better, Coach K from Duke. Many of you will recognize his smiling face in the picture above. Believe it or not that is his smile. This week he recorded his 903rd win, making him the winningest active coach in NCAA basketball.

I met Coach K as well as 30 other Division One basketball coaches during the summer when I went to Las Vegas to sit in on a High School tournament featuring the nation's top recruits. Not only did I meet them, I interviewed each coach on camera for a documentary about Coaches Versus Cancer.

Interviewing people on camera in not exactly my strong suit, but the ad agency was paying my day rate and putting me up at the nice Aria Hotel, so I just clipped on the microphone and winged it.

Every interview started the same way. We'd roll the coaches in, have them take a seat in front of the camera, state their name, the name of the school they coach and the proper spelling of their name. Why do we do this? Mostly for the editor's sake, who dutifully put up a graphic identifying each coach. If the coach spells their name on camera the editor doesn't have to fiddle through reams of notes looking for the right spelling.

It's all about convenience.

Coach K took exception to this. When I asked him to spell his name for the camera, he thought I was busting his balls. And maybe when I asked him to do it twice, I was. But I will always treasure his unfiltered reaction when he stood up to look at the other crew members and said, "Who's this friggin' asshole?" I, of course, being the asshole in question.

But just as I was yanking his chain, Coach K was yanking mine.

He got up from the interview with a big smile. And before returning to the court to turn some high school baller into a multi-million dollar  NBA draft choice, he looked at me
and said, "K-R-Y-Z-E-W-S-K-I."

And added with a laugh, "Don't ever ask me that again."

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