Mike Krzyzewski’s recent outburst now has some added context.
On Tuesday night, Krzyzewski scolded Duke’s “Cameron Crazies” for a seemingly innocuous chant about Pittsburgh head coach Jeff Capel. Fans told Capel, who served as a Duke assistant from 2011-2018, to “sit with us,” (an apparently common chant for ex-players) and Coach K was none too pleased. The Duke legend walked over to fans during halftime and passionately told them that Capel is “one of us” and yelled at them to “shut up.”
Krzyzewski held a surprise speech for about 40-50 students the next day, according to a report from the Duke Chronicle, explaining that his reaction was partly influenced by the “fragile emotional state” caused by Kobe Bryant’s sudden death in a helicopter crash Sunday. The report goes on to say that Coach K “went into significant detail” about his relationship with Bryant, whose 13-year-old daughter Gianna -as well as seven other passengers — also died in the tragic accident.
“Today was about sort of clearing the air between Coach and the tenters, if there was any air that needed to be cleared,” said Ben Succop, the co-head line monitor of Duke’s tenting organization, Krzyzewskiville. “Just to kind of bury the issue and grow and move past it.”
During the meeting, which took place inside the Cameroon Indoor Stadium media room, Krzyzewski also explained to the students his close relationship with Capel — a Duke player from 1993-1997 — and even showed the group a video of past Cameron Crazies to inform their future behavior.
Krzyzewski apologized for his outburst after the game on Tuesday night, but stood by his belief that the chant was poorly timed.
“I thought it was something personal,” Krzyzewski told reporters after the game. “I apologize to the students for that. I don’t apologize for the timing. You shouldn’t say that in the middle of the first half of an ACC game.
“It was a mistake on my part, but I’d rather make a mistake in protection of my guy.”