Friday, July 2, 2004
Make L.A. the center of hate
By Patrick Hruby Special to Page 2
Dear Sports Gods,
I don't ask for much; more to the point, you never
grant me squat. I didn't grow to 6-foot-5 with a
45-inch vertical leap. Billy Packer doesn't come
equipped with a mute button. And as far as I know, a
topless women's professional beach volleyball league
has yet to take off. But not to worry: there's a way
you can make things up to me.
Deliver Mike Krzyzewski unto the Los Angeles Lakers.
Please. Por favor. Sil vou plait. I'm begging you.
Send America's K-lassiest coach to America's most
dysfunctional sports franchise. Bring group hugs and
babbling claptrap about all the special, special kids to a
group of men so jaded, you'd expect to find them in a
Burmese mine. Pair the NBA's biggest egotist, Kobe
Bryant, with the college game's high priest of
Trust me: the first time Bryant drops a dismissive,
contemptuous f-bomb on Krzyzewski during a time out,
the resulting Coach K nostril flare -- is that
special, special spittle on the corner of his mouth?
-- will be well worth your efforts.
Will Coach K lend the same kind of fatherly love to Kobe as he does at Duke?
And don't do this for you. Do it for me. Frankly,
it's hard work -- exhausting, really -- to hate both
Duke and the Lakers at the same time. That's almost
nine months a year of corrosive bile and poisonous
vitriol, an IV drip of soul-sucking Haterade. Never
mind an ulcer: I'm surprised I haven't grown scales
Put yourself in my sad, pathetic shoes. March is
always shot, laid low by a joyless Final Four that includes Duke. June
isn't much better. I don't dare flip to ABC on a
Sunday afternoon, not unless I steel myself for the
retina-searing sight of fat Jack Nicholson. Or maybe
swarthy Rick Fox, looking like a landlocked Phoenician
sea captain. Sans eyepatch.
Worst of all, I hardly can stand to pick up Sports
Illustrated's college basketball preview issue,
because some overhyped Dukie like Steve Wojciehowski is always
grinning back at me. Even in the years the special,
special Blue Devils aren't No. 1.
So help me out. Consolidate my hate. Give me a chance
to focus. Give me a chance to live. Breathe. Exhale.
Leech the toxins from the oil-spill beachscape of my
Set me free -- free to detest just one team.
Without his K-ness, Duke will revert to
run-of-the-mill good: A powerhouse program, to be
sure, but no longer the contemptuous evil empire of
college hoops, the irritating stand-in for every
overachieving valedictorian know-it-all who ran for
student body president. Stripped of juggernaut status,
the Blue Devils will instead be, well, a lot like
rival North Carolina -- a worrisome development, same
as the rise of William Hung, but wholly unworthy of
all-consuming anathema. Easy and safe to ignore.
Erik Meek-ish, if you will.
By contrast, the Lakers will become my 24/7 epicenter
of loathing. And that figures to be great fun. Imagine
if Saddam, Carrot Top and Barry Bonds all took paycuts
to play for the same team. Wouldn't that make things
easy? Wouldn't it feel good -- right, even -- to boo?
To hurl D-cells and Ziploc-ed bags bags of urine at
When I see Special K now, prowling the Duke sideline,
yapping at the refs, it brings to mind Mike Myers in
his horrifying "Cat in the Hat" oversized possum
getup. Revulsion in my bones, I want to throw it in
reverse and drive away. Or else step on the gas and
turn him into roadkill. But if and when the special
little man trades barbs with take-no-guff NBA refs,
it'll simply make me laugh, the sheer, giddy joy of
And what about the Lakers? For better or worse, I
can't lose. If the club slides deeper into decline,
Bryant jacking up 50 shots a game while Gary Payton
pouts like a lingerie model, I'll be delighted; if
Coach K finds a way to make the likes of Kareem Rush
and Brian Cook champions, I'll be delighted to further
Heck, I almost hope the K-led Lakers win the title.
Just so the coach puts out another tome on Coaching
From the Heart With the Five People You Meet on
Tuesdays in Heaven. I'll gladly buy the book. Then
Look, Sports Gods, there's a lot of things I could
ask for. Stuff that would require much heavier
lifting. Like America winning the World Cup. Or Maria
Sharapova having a beach volleyball-playing twin
sister. But I'm neither greedy or unreasonable. Both
the Lakers and the K have shown interest. Can't you
just give them a little nudge?
Oh, and if it's not too much trouble, can you also
see to it that that Lakers trade for Derek Jeter?
Patrick Hruby is a sportswriter for the Washington Times.