Call it the miscommunication heard around the world. It’s been a very stressful week for Mike Krzyzewski.
The legendary Duke basketball coach flipped out on the hometown “Cameron Crazies” on Tuesday night for what he interpreted to be a chant mocking Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel.
The former Blue Devils player was being serenaded by Duke fans, as is the custom at Cameron Indoor Stadium when Krzyzewski angrily jumped up from the bench and told them to “shut up.” He walked all the way across the basketball court as time was expiring in the first half and told the Duke fans that he’s “one of us.”
Capel was a four-year starter at Duke under Krzyzewski as a player from 1994-1997. He took the head-coaching gig at Pitt in 2018. Obviously, the 72-year-old coach was protecting his former point guard in what he perceived to be insulting and negative comments being hurled at Capel. Turns out, the “Cameron Crazies” were saying “Capel, sit with us.” The whole thing was a huge misunderstanding.
“I don’t know if I made a mistake on that, but I’ve never heard another coach’s name yelled out in the middle of the first half when we’re in a war with the team,” Krzyzewski told reporters afterward, via Sporting News. “I don’t know if they were saying, ‘Come sit with me.’ We got a different look at what the hell was going on. I thought it was something personal. … I apologize to the students for that.”
Tough Week for Legendary Duke Basketball Coach
It’s been a trying week for Mike Krzyzewski who was good friends with the late great Kobe Bryant. He coached him on the USA Basketball team that won gold at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics in Beijing and London, respectively.
He also recruited Bryant hard coming out of high school and Duke would have been his college of choice, if he hadn’t gone straight to the NBA. After Duke’s 79-67 victory over Pitt, Coach K went into detail about his relationship with Bryant.
Per the News & Observer, both teams wore matching pre-game warmup outfits featuring black shirts and a purple No. 8, bordered in yellow, on the front and a No. 24 on the back to honor Bryant. Coach K himself wore a shirt with Kobe’s number on it underneath his blazer.
“The last couple days have been really emotional,” Krzyzewski told reporters, via ABC11 in Charlotte. “Kobe was one of my players. I coached him on three teams. We had special moments, private and public.”
Capel Had Funny Reaction to Chanting Mishap
Duke fans, affectionately known as the “Cameron Crazies,” have been gathering scouting reports on opposing players and coaches for years.
In them, they try to find weaknesses or things to poke fun at in signs and for chants in a section they call “key dirt.” Hence, the reason why Coach K thought they were saying insensitive things about Jeff Capel. But members of the group revealed they would never do that to a guy who helped Duke make deep NCAA Tournament runs in the 1990s.
In fact, they even shared a snippet of their scouting report which stated “nothing bad to say here, love you Capel” under the “key dirt” section. Capel, who now coaches Pitt, responded with kindness on Twitter.