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Eight revelations about Coach K from the Fayetteville Observer

Jeff Eisenberg
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There haven't been too many more insightful, well-reported profiles written about Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski than the Fayetteville Observer's three-part series that concluded Sunday.

Part I examined Krzyzewski's family life. Part II delved into what makes him college basketball's most polarizing figure. And part III looks at the qualities that make him a great teacher and a great listener.

The entire series is well worth a read for anyone interested in a behind-the-scenes look at Krzyzewski's life, but here are the revelations, both serious and lighthearted, that I found the most interesting.

1. Thanks but no thanks, Dickie V

As part of his effort to quell widespread contempt of his program, Krzyzewski went out of his way to ask ESPN analyst Dick Vitale to stop praising Duke in games in which the Blue Devils weren't playing. Apparently, the backlash Vitale was creating had become detrimental to the program.

2. A softer side of Coach K

From hunting for seashells with his granddaughters, to playing board games with his son-in-laws, to sending his wife flowers on each of his daughters' birthdays, Krzyzewski's family life is very different than his polarizing public persona.

3. Indianapolis Star flap, part I

When Krzyzewski criticized the Indianapolis Star for running the defaced image of him on its sports section cover on the eve of the Final Four, the aspect that bothered him most was the blue bull's eye in the middle of his forehead. "They don't do that to Osama bin Laden's picture," oldest daughter Debbie Savarino said. "Think about that. My dad would never say it. But if you're human and this is how people choose to see you, that has to hurt you a little bit."

4. Indianapolis Star flap, part II

Editors from the Star apologized to Krzyzewski at Lucas Oil Stadium the next day, but he apparently didn't let them off the hook that easily. "I'm sorry for you," he said. "That's just wrong. You shouldn't do that to anybody. And you know what, that's not going to stop us from being at our best here. You should be ashamed of yourselves."

5. 'The Black Mamba of Bocce Ball'

Krzyzewski was so proud of a clutch bocce ball roll on a recent family vacation that he has jokingly taken to referring to himself as "The Black Mamba of Bocce Ball."

6. Why Coach K gets behind the mike

The weekly show Krzyzewski hosts on Sirius radio has been been very rewarding for him because each week he feels as though he learns something from his guests that he incorporates into his coaching.

7. Even Glee isn't safe

The episode of Glee in which a character says "I hate Duke like I hate the Nazis" did not sit well with Krzyzewski's family. "People hate Duke like they hate the Nazis?" daughter Lindy Frasher said. "So that means my dad is Hitler? That just seems really outrageous to me. I mean, my dad wins basketball games. He does not commit genocide."

8. More charming than you think

After three days of Team USA practices this summer, Lamar Odom felt a strong enough bond with Krzyzewski to say this about him. "I'm a man," he said. "So I don't know if I can call another man charming. But honestly, he's charming. He has this charismatic way about him. And when you're trying to bring a team together, you have to be in touch with how guys think and what gets them motivated. He makes an effort to do that. But it's all so natural for him."


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