A legend leaves
Coach K was a lot of things, and a lot of people will debate the angles and interpretations of those things.
But the one thing on which everyone who knew a Blue Devil from a devil in a blue dress must concur is that he was a legend.
Bona fide and unquestioned.
Sure, there are a lot of next-level super coaches holding clipboards and blowing whistles around us.
But very few of them built and sustained a super-program or franchise the way Michael William Krzyzewski built, shaped, succeeded, transformed and succeeded again at Duke University.
Look at the greats today, especially in college. Saban is the best I've ever seen do this, regardless of sport, but he resurrected Alabama rather than build it.
Maybe the only comp out there is Geno, but even then, what Coach K did in Durham, considering the wide-reaching competition and the stakes, is more impressive.
There were dots of success at Duke, which was nestled forever in the shadow of perennial Blue blood UNC, but Coach K galvanized that. He made the great accomplishments the everyday expectation at Duke.
Do I think he cheated his neck tie off? Absolutely. Do I think his schtick was just that, and at heart he was a Bobby Knight-coached-point guard who would be just as comfortable recruiting at the kitchen table as he would be fighting in the street with a kitchen knife? Yep.
He was cut throat — understandably so — early on and recruited and built and recruited some more.
And beyond landing and developing Laettner inton the best college player of the last 40 years, I believe Coach K's savvy media moves helped him as much as anything. He got in good early with the Vitales and the megaphone that is ESPN and brilliantly used that to his advantage.
Mind you, this does not take away one iota from his accomplishments. In fact, it proves his willingness to be all-time great in an all-time shady realm like college basketball.
(Side note: Call me cynical all you want, but in an anything-but shallow pool of shadiness like college sports and especially college basketball recruiting, you're not getting a river of five stars without your hands in the green-tinted flow of money. Period.)
But this is less about the spin and more about the success story. At least on this day.
Because, again, no matter your view on Coach K, his status and stature in the game are universally accepted.
He's right there with Wooden as the best to ever do this, no worse than 2 — and considering the expanded competition and demands of the current game compared to what the Wizard of Westwood dealt with — and maybe the best ever.
And this will be his final season.
Derby do over
So, ever-persecuted white dude Bob Baffert — he of the half dozen Derby winners and the multi-millions in a lifestyle that makes Robin Leach blush — originally said he was part of the cancel culture.
Uh, Bob, after Medina Spirit has tested twice for banned substances and been stripped of last month's Kentucky Derby win, can you explain that cancel thing one more time, and do it loudly this time for the folks in the back.
Of course, Baffert nor his winning horse Medina Spirit were not cancelled. The whole lot of them cheated and got caught. (Side note: Considering that among Baffert's original excuses after moving on from the fraudulent cancelled claim was that Medina Spirit ate some hay that was urinated on by a stall attendant who was taking cough medicine. Now, considering the strange names of these horses, if there's a future Derby runner named" P-Soaked Hey" then I swear I'm betting on that horse to win.)
But most of that is old news.
Here's my conversation on it.
One of the legalized online gambling partners across the country should pay the online tickets on Mandaloun as the Derby winner after Medina Spirit was stripped of the title.
Yes, Mandaloun's odds were lofty — the horse closed at 27-to-1 — but the goodwill generated by whichever site makes this gesture first will be unprecedented. Heck, give it away in site credit if needed, but make amends, and be the first to do it.
Friends, there are two things that are absolutely guaranteed in the sports betting world.
First, the house — eventually — always wins. Know this and you'll be a better bettor.
Second, in this industry, you can't put a price on loyalty, and if DraftKings or Fan Duel become the first to right a wrong, customers will long remember it.
So now, Calm.com has offered to pay the $15,000 fine for any tennis player skipping a media session citing mental health reasons and will match that $15K with a donation to Laureus Sport in France.
Hmmmmmm. Great. I guess.
Of course, the original social media response from the "Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya" chorus where everyone is a victim and big bad whatever is to blame rallied to praise Calm.com for standing up to the Grand Slam events for the atrocious acts of requiring players to fulfill their obligations and the critical, evil big bad media who — gasp — are doing their job.
But, Calm.com, I'll ask this first:
Why make it public? Why not just cover it and go about your business? Noble gestures lose a grand chunk of their nobility when the gesture-maker makes announcements of the gesture, no?
Hmmmmm, which then begs this question: Which is worse, requiring someone like Osaka, who claims to be too mentally frail or frazzled to listen to the same question about her backhand more than once, to fulfil an agreed upon part of her job like a news conference or to exploit that condition with a grandstanding attempt to curry favor among your customer base with a hollow check? (Yes, I said hollow. In 2020 Calm.com was valued at $2 billion — yes billion, with a 'B' — by techcrunch.com last December and made more than $200 million in 2020. So if you are making $100,000 a year — congrats on the nice gig by the way — Calm.com's gesture is akin to you paying someone's $7.50 lunch bill at Subway. One of the co-owners of Calm.com said the goal is to become the "Nike of the mind" so maybe we should have expected an exploitation attempt of this magnitude.)
Now, let's ask one more question of Calm.com before I become anything but Calm. com: How many other worthwhile charities or organizations are out there that could really use your money rather than someone in Osaka's position?
Osaka made $55 million in 2020, during a pandemic when tennis was sucking wind, and she needs your $15K how exactly?
Or could it be the headlines or the chance to ride her emotional state into a trending spot on Twitter?
So go take your victory lap you charlaton and fraud site that is exploiting a mental health scenario and conversation in an attempt to further entrench your spot in the money-making marketplace of the mental health conversation.
Hey, I'm all for advertising. I'm all for trying to improve your standing in your marketplace. I'm all for the capitalistic concept.
I'm not for duplicitousness or exploitation, though. I'm not for spinning something as important as mental health into a feel-good line item on Twitter or some ad rep's resume. And I'm not for frauds or, considering what I do for a living, the hollow attempt to personally gain by participating in the destructive and dishonest war on the media that so many fall into.
Yes, the mental health conversation is an important one, and I'm glad we're having it. (Visor tip, Fat Vader, because you know.)
But so is due process and legal rights of the accused. But Calm.com being a barnacle on this debate would be like Legal.com saying, "We realize the importance of having fair representation, so we'll donate $15,000 a day to Judge Judy's civil suit against Viacom."
PUH-lease. Stay (classy) calm(.com) and get the heck outta here with this.
This and that
— Blending numbers two and three, one of the betting sites had an odds boost that you could get something like +400 money (bet $100 and win $400) if Serena, Osaka or CoCo Gauff won the French Open. With the announcement of Osaka's WD, the site will honor bets if Serena or Gauff win at Roland-Garros, but if neither does, players' money will be refunded. "One day, some neighborhood kids carried my mother's groceries all the way home. You know why? It was out of respect."
— Man, the postgame news conference is a dangerous duty. Now Petra Kvitova says she turned her ankle during her post-match press obligations. Maybe WebMD.com will donate $8,500 to each case of post-match ankle trauma. Think of the children.
— Anyone else shocked that Jon Scheyer was named Coach K's successor? I kind of was. Also, while we're here: If you thought Duke got all the calls in previous years, Holy Buckets of Blind-eye Referees will the Devils be in the officiating details this season.
— When he accepted and then walked away from the head coaching job at Tyner earlier this spring, it was clear that Tyrus Ward had a much-bigger opportunity on the horizon. Now we know what it is. Here's more from Mean Gene Henley on Ward accepting a gig with UTC to be the DBs coach after David Bibee's retirement.
— Trae Young was filthy as the Hawks toppled the Knicks. Ben Simmons was multidimensional as the Sixers ended the Wizards' run. Utah was relentless to beat Ja Morant and the Grizz. Luka and his Mavs sidekicks handled their business in L.A. to take a 3-2 lead over the Clippers.
— While we're on the NBA, Mader has to be grinning from ear-to-ear since a) the Hawks punked NYC and b) now the Hawks face a very beatable 76ers bunch if Joel Embiid's playoffs are undone by a knee injury.
Of the young NBA stars mentioned above — Trae, Ja, Luka or Ben Simmons — which will be the first to win an NBA title?
True or false on a Tuesday, Coach K > Coach Wooden. Explain your work.
Game 6 tonight, Lakers-Suns, who you got?
As for today, June 3, let's review.
Rafy Nadal is 34 today. Yeah, I thought he was older, too.
On this day 170 years ago, the first baseball uniforms were worn when the New York Knickerbockers wore straw hats, white shirts and long blue trousers.
Rushmore of baseball uniforms. Go.
And remember the mailbag.