Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said something to Oregon’s Dillon Brooks after the Ducks’ victory on Thursday night. The two men involved seem to disagree on the content of that exchange.
Brooks, who scored 22 points in the lopsided win, claims the legendary coach gave him an earful for showboating.
"“He just told me that I’m too good of a player to be showing out at the end,” Brooks said after the game. “And he’s right. I’ve got to respect Duke.”"
"“I didn’t say that,” Krzyzewski said after the game. “You can say whatever you want. Dillon Brooks is a hell of a player. I said, ‘You’re a terrific player.’ And you can take whatever he said and then go with it, all right?”"
Interesting. It appears one person is being either selective with –or forgetful of– the facts.
Brooks sank a 35-footer as the clock ticked down on Oregon’s final possession. It seemed to be a shot taken solely to avoid a shot-clock violation and not to run up the score, as opposed to an alley-oop. He then tried to hug Duke’s Grayson Allen after time expired but was rebuffed.
Even though Allen’s less than stellar reputation when it comes to sportsmanship precedes him, you can understand his reluctance to give into a bear hug the moment his season ended in disappointment. It’s tough to criticize a guy for not losing the right way when his main transgression was hustling over to the handshake line.
Defending Krzyzewski is a bit more difficult. The video shows him saying something to Brooks (and the lip-reading backs up “you’re too good a player”) which elicits an apology. Why would Brooks show contrition after a simple compliment?
Look, you might say that this is a non-troversy bred out of intense public disdain for Duke. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that Krzyzewski is more or less calling Brooks a liar. He’d better be damn sure he’s telling the whole truth while making such an assertion.
For his part, Brooks seems to have no problem admitting he was playing emotionally and that could have ruffled some feathers.
"Brooks said he’d engaged in trash talk with some of Duke’s players throughout the game. In the first half, Brooks hit a 3-pointer in front of Duke’s bench and said something that appeared to frustrate Krzyzewski. “They were all trash-talking,” Brooks said. “I wasn’t really trying to say too much. But it’s part of the game. Everybody trash-talks and tries to get you out of your game. But that just makes me go harder and fires me up.”"
It’s unclear what purpose fabricating a story about Coach K serves for Brooks and Oregon. The game’s already over so there’s no reason to manufacture extra motivation. The two aren’t traditional rivals so there’s no bulletin-board material for coming years.
Nothing would delight Duke detractors more than Brooks doubling down on his claim and making this a bigger issue. With a spot in the Final Four at stake, he obviously has more important things to worry about right now.
But, hey, a nation can dream.