Even those who can't stand him might have to applaud Coach K this time. Presumably, even those Duke haters will actually be able to give him some credit in this case. After all, he's garnering attention for his grace in defeat.
Moments after his third-seeded Blue Devils were stunned by No. 13 Mercer in their opening game of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski made an unexpected visit to the victorious locker room to offer his congratulations.
"You have a hell of a basketball team," Coach K told the Bears after they knocked off his team 78-71 in Raleigh, North Carolina on Friday afternoon. "I love the game and you guys play the game really, really well and your coach coaches it well. If we had to be beaten, I'm glad that we got beaten by a hell of a basketball team. So, good luck to you."
WATCH VIDEO ABOVE
The Bears, champions of the Atlantic Sun Conference, were starstruck by the visit from the Duke coach who has four national championships and a pair of Olympic gold medals on his resume.
"My God," Mercer forward Daniel Coursey told reporters after Krzyzewski left. "I honestly don't even know. I mean, that's huge. I mean, Coach K is one of the most famous basketball coaches ever and for him to just come in here and tell us that we're a great basketball team that's pretty unbelievable to tell you the truth."
The magnanimous gesture was widely hailed on social media after the game but not everyone thought Krzyzewski should have inserted himself into the Mercer celebration.
Not feeling Coach K walking into Mercer's locker room to address their team. Not your moment, Coach!
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) March 21, 2014
@EdgeofSports Take misplaced ego to assume those kids want to hear from you more than their own staff. Assumes they put you on pedestal.
— Brian Peterson (@BreakingGinger) March 21, 2014
Was it a classy gesture? Did Coach K somehow make the Mercer celebration about him by dropping by? Or maybe a little bit of both?