I’m not exactly sure where to begin today or where to go once I get started.
So, let’s start with something easy that—for some reason—people seem to be interested in. The Feinstein-Wilbon feud of 2010 is over. Mike called me on Wednesday and we talked and agreed to get together—with Kornheiser serving as the referee—next week. We still disagree on Tiger Woods and no doubt will continue to do so. But we agree that disagreeing on any subject isn’t a reason to start publicly calling each other names.
Mike said one thing that’s absolutely true: This isn’t a lot different than the arguments we used to get into—with Kornheiser and Sally Jenkins usually joining in—in The Washington Post newsroom 25 years ago. We’d often scream at one another and, frequently, the subject was a coach or an athlete we disagreed on. Tony used to joke that Mike only killed people he didn’t have to deal with regularly. We always gave Tony a hard time because he liked attention (all attention) but particularly that which he got from the very wealthy. That may explain why he’s the one person in Washington who doesn’t hammer Dan Snyder on a regular basis. Sally got teased because she liked tennis players and NO one liked tennis players. She once declared the young Andre Agassi to be, “charming.” We declared her to be insane.
I got nailed for not dressing well (that certainly hasn’t changed); for always getting into fights with security people and for liking basketball coaches too much. The one area I’ve actually improved in is security people. I’m not perfect but I’m a lot better.
One of Kornheiser’s favorite stories that is, unfortunately, absolutely true took place at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. I had been stricken with gout, a really terrible case that made walking just about impossible. Any of you who’ve had the misfortune to have gout know how painful it can be. Thank God for modern medicine.
Tony and I were in transit from, I think, the swimming venue to the boxing venue and the bus system had broken down so we jumped into a cab. The cab couldn’t get around to the front of the LA Sports Arena where the media entrance was so it dropped us off in the back. I was really hurting by then.
So, I convinced Tony that we should try to talk our way into the back door, especially since the media workroom was literally 10 yards from there. We walked up to the guard and explained the situation, showing our badges—which had photo ID on them—to the guard.
He kept shaking his head and saying no he couldn’t do it. This was way pre-9-11 but because of the boycott by Eastern Bloc countries, security was very tight. I kept saying, ‘come on, the media room is RIGHT there. Don’t make me walk all the way around this building.”
The guy finally relented. “Okay,” he said. “Just this one time.”
We walked into the media room at which point I turned to Tony and said, “guy’s not even doing his job.”
YES, I was a jerk—or worse. The only good thing about it was that it gave Tony a story he could tell about me—without exaggerating—for years.
What happened with Wilbon and I the last couple of weeks really wasn’t different than what used to happen except it took place in public. Twenty-five years ago Tony and Mike didn’t have a TV show and Tony didn’t have a radio show and I wasn’t on radio all the time and there was no internet. Now, all of that is in play and that’s how this became a “story,” if you want to call it that.
I’m not trying to say Mike and I weren’t pissed at each other; I’m not pulling some jock, “our comments were taken out of context,” move. We were both pissed. We’ve been mad at each other before, we’ll no doubt be mad at each other again. We’ll continue to disagree about Tiger. But that’s all there is to it.
I’m almost hesitant to even bring this up because I know a lot of Maryland people will drag out the tired, “he’s a Duke grad,” argument but when is something going to be done about the behavior of the Maryland fans—particularly when Duke is in town?
Look, I was really happy for Gary Williams on Wednesday because he’s been a friend for more than 30 years and I think he’s done a remarkable coaching job this season. He’s going to be ACC Coach of the Year and Maryland will almost certainly do no worse than tie for the regular season title after being picked fifth in preseason. As he almost always does, Gary has squeezed every last drop out of his team.
Good for him and for his players.
But why do the Maryland fans HAVE to chant profanities constantly when their team is playing Duke. That was a great game Wednesday and it was sullied by the fans behavior—not to mention the 27 arrests after the game. To begin with, Maryland fans should have more respect for their team and their program. Maryland beating Duke isn’t exactly George Mason beating Connecticut.
Maryland won the national championship in 2002—that’s more recently than Duke. Maryland was ONE game behind Duke in the ACC standings going into Wednesday’s game. Maryland coach SHOULD be in the Hall of Fame someday soon, especially if the Hall of Fame nominating committee and voting panel stops being so NBA-centric.
So, Maryland beats Duke and the fans storm the court (I know part of that is caused everywhere by TV but it still makes no sense) after beating a team that is, for all intents and purposes, it’s peer? Then they take to the streets and the headline the next day becomes that, not Greivis Vasquez’s shot in the final minute but the arrests?
It’s ridiculous. I have a great deal of affection for Maryland and for a lot of people who have gone to the school and work at the school. In fact, having lived in the Washington area for more than 30 years and—given my relationship with Duke—I probably have closer ties to Maryland at this point in my life than Duke. That’s NOT to say that Mike Krzyzewski isn’t also a friend and he is obviously someone I have nothing but respect for.
All of that said, I wish the Maryland people would clean up their act. Oh, and by the way, don’t throw the, “Duke fans behave badly,” argument out there because it just doesn’t work—especially these days. In fact, I’ve said before that Krzyzewski has gone TOO far in reigning in behavior in Cameron. It’s good that there are no profane chants, but in toning the students down as he’s done, they’ve lost all their spontaneity and cleverness. I can’t remember the last time I heard a truly funny chant from the Duke students. Their whole ying and yang now is to paint their bodies and get on TV.
There’s a happy middle ground out there somewhere. Enjoy the game and be really loud. Be funny if you can be. My all-time favorite chant was years ago at Duke when the students, after being admonished by Duke President Terry Sanford for going too far during a game, decided to come up with a replacement for the tired, “b-----,” cheer. They replaced it with: “We beg to differ.” THAT was funny.
Last thing: For those of you who seem to think I confuse opinion with fact. Here’s a fact: Today is Friday, March 5th. Just about everything else you will ever read in this blog is going to be opinion. My suggestion to those of you who find my opinions somehow offensive or disconcerting is to read another blog. Seriously, why bother with someone who is always so wrong about everything? God knows I wouldn’t read Rush Limbaugh if he had a blog. Life’s too short. Read what you enjoy, not what makes your blood pressure go up.