When he’s not going by King, LeBron James has been dubbed The Chosen One—or at least, he has since Sports Illustrated pegged him with that title when the King-in-waiting was only a high school junior in 2002. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski coached James this summer as he guided Team USA to a gold medal in the Beijing Olympics.
One day, he told students at “Have a Coke with Coach Cut” Wednesday in the Great Hall, Krzyzewski was talking with James and the superstar had his shirt off, showing off the tattoo on his back that reads “The Chosen One.” Krzyzewski noticed the body ink and asked if he could get a tattoo of the same ilk.
“Coach, I really like you a lot, but no one would choose you,” Krzyzewski recalled James saying to the delight of the approximately 200 students in attendance.
Mike Krzyzewski and his daughter, Duke graduate Jamie Spatola, are co-writing a book about Krzyzewski’s experience with Team USA and how he led 12 of the world’s best basketball players to a gold medal, the Business Plus imprint of Grand Central Publishing announced in a release last week. Krzyzewski and Spatola, who co-wrote Beyond Basketball: Coach K’s Keywords For Success, are planning a spring release, according to this item in the NY Post and response on The Big Lead. The book will be a “case study in fundamental management techniques,” as the Post paraphrased Rick Wolff, the executive editor of Business Plus. The Duke release calls it “more than a celebratory book.”
One last note: while TBL speculates that the alleged six-figure deal was in response to the gold medal, Krzyzewski told The Chronicle back in June that Spatola, who holds a degree in English, was traveling with him to Beijing and was planning to pen a book with him about the experience. Of course, withou the gold medal, it might have quickly ended up in the bargain rack.
Mike Krzyzewski has never been afraid to challenge local media, which very much includes The Chronicle, especially when he reads criticism of his team–and, of course, he has every right to defend himself, just as every journalist has every right to write freely. In years past, however, The Chronicle has been one of the most analytic and vocal of newspapers, which was never more evident on three days last March.
When Duke lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to West Virginia last year, now-graduated sports columnist Andrew Yaffe wrote an opinion piece contradicting Krzyzewski’s press conference claim that the Blue Devils had enjoyed a “great” season. The tenet of the column was that great teams don’t lose five of their last 11 games or fail to make it past the first weekend of the Tournament, and that saying last season was “great” does a “disservice” to the truly sublime Duke teams of the past.
The column was a fair, honest assessment of the year that was, even though Yaffe, a member of one of two Duke classes to graduate without a Final Four since the Class of 1986, caught flak from the sense of entitlement that ran through the piece. “I certainly appreciate the effort the team put forth Saturday and don’t doubt DeMarcus Nelson was trying his damndest,” he wrote. “But Duke students don’t sleep in the cold for two months just to see players give it their all. Expectations can and should be high, and they were not fulfilled this year or last.”
The column’s sentiments were amplified the next day by editorial (read: non-sports) columnist Dan Belzer, who wrote on the back pages: “I don’t know about y’all, but I was under the impression that part of my birthright as a privileged Duke student was a men’s basketball national championship-or at least a Final Four. You really think I came here for the academics?” It had none of the accuracy or validity of Yaffe’s piece, and, of course, was a lesser derivative of the previous piece. Those two pieces, especially combined with editorial (read: non-sports) columnist Tom Segal’s further cretinous rant the very next day, did not sit well with the Duke Basketball office, which may have accepted Yaffe’s column as critical but somewhat indisputable and honest but could not find the same merit in the last two offerings.
Which brings us to Wednesday, when Krzyzewski showed, yet again, that he doesn’t forget anything and, at least occasionally, reads The Chronicle for non-Sudoku purposes:
What do you think? Were Krzyzewski’s points valid?
In an interview with The Chronicle today, sophomores Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler revealed that the entire team got together early Sunday morning to watch the USA take on Spain for the gold medal with a fully catered hot breakfast from Mad Hatters at 2:30 a.m. I’m pretty sure there isn’t another student group on campus that would get that sort of royal food treatment. The highlight of the after-hours feast, they say? French toast.
With Coach K scheduled to arrive at RDU this evening around 5 p.m., the team will be meeting him at his home later tonight to welcome him back to Durham.
2007 Duke graduate Shannon Rowbury, the fastest American in her field, took seventh place Saturday morning in the 1,500-meter final at the National Stadium in Beijing, finishing 3.58 seconds behind Kenya’s Nancy Langat, the gold medalist. Rowbury’s finish was the highest ever by an American.
Rowbury was in fifth place with 600 meters left and fourth with 500 remaining but lagged behind in the final laps. The 2007 national champion in the indoor mile and Duke record-holder in the 1,500m was the only American to qualify for the final.
The only Olympians with Duke ties still in competition now are Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski and reserve forward Carlos Boozer. Gail Goestenkors, the former Duke women’s basketball head coach, took a gold medal this morning as an assistant coach. Freshman fencer Becca Ward won two bronze medals earlier in the games.
Shannon Rowbury, a 2007 Duke graduate, advanced to the finals of the 1,500 meters at the Olympics in Beijing this morning. The only U.S. runner to make it through, Rowbury qualified for the finals after finishing fourth in her heat with a time of 4:03.89. Rowbury will race in the finals Saturday at 7:50 a.m. EST.
Rowbury holds the Duke school record in the 1,500 meters with a 4:14.81, and won a national championship in 2007.
Lots of news around these parts: Team USA romped over Australia this morning, Reggie Love was featured in an E:60 story last night, 1,700 freshmen moved into East Campus dorms yesterday. We’ll bring you more news in the coming days when daily production starts again (orientation issue Friday, normal schedule begins Monday), but before the grind, we decided to break it up and provide you with The Chronicle’s Sports Blog’s first Wordle, which is described on its own site as a “toy for generating word clouds from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.”
What better way to experiment with this new “toy” that put it to the test? We submitted the URL for the collection of July posts, and here’s what Wordle spit out.
Consider this a new monthly feature: on the 1st of every month, we’ll show you the Wordle for the previous month. Don’t forget to keep us on schedule.
If there are any other tricks out there that you’d like us to incorporate, don’t forget to drop us a line, either in the comments section below or by e-mailing Sports Editor Ben Cohen at email@example.com.