- The Washington Times - Monday, July 5, 2004

Just do it, Coach K.

Take the $40 million from the Lakers and live to regret every penny of it.

This potential pairing is too funny, Coach Rah-Rah and the most dysfunctional team in pro sports.

The K-Man loves his kids at Duke, which is the line he trots out several hundred times a season.

The K-Man traffics in the sap of college basketball, and it works because he wins big and Dickie V is there to celebrate his every breath.

Love has no place in the NBA unless you count the groupies who hang out in the team’s hotel lobby.

The K-Man was said to be flattered after Kobe Bryant asked him to be his new mentor.

Another coach might have donned a fake beard, hopped into a white Bronco and led police on a low-speed freeway chase.

Bryant is a team-killing, coach-killing individualist who is now running the asylum of the Lakers.

He just spit out the Zen Master, as if he were gristle, and now he is campaigning to have the K-Man join the mess.

How is the K-Man going to react the first time a player tells him to stick it where the sun does not shine? Is he going to threaten to take away his scholarship?

Another thing: Does he think the Lakers will smack the floor in earnest as he implores them to play defense?

That is such a cute defensive maneuver of the Blue Devils.

The K-Man has something strange going on with his hair, too. That is perfectly acceptable in Durham, N.C. It is Durham, after all. But his hair is not going to work around Jack and Dyan and the rest of the beautiful people. The K-Man needs a stylist, lots of gel and a picture of Steve Lavin’s L.A.-style hairdo to follow.

The NBA is an alien basketball planet compared to the college ranks.

A college basketball coach is a messiah, which means the K-Man is messiah squared.

He tells the Blue Devils the earth is flat, and they nod their heads in agreement.

The NBA audience is much tougher, assuming you can get an audience with a player at the appointed hour.

Your watch and theirs are not always in sync.

How would the K-Man respond to that — require the player to run the steps after practice?

The K-Man could use the Zen Master as his guide.

The Zen Master led the Lakers to three championships and four appearances in the NBA Finals in five seasons and even dated the owner’s daughter, to no avail. Bye, Zen. Business is business.

That is the reality of the NBA. If a coach and the team’s star player are not at one, forget it. In the end, the coach loses the argument every time.

There is only one Bryant. There is an abundance of coaches.

Good luck with making peace with Shaquille O’Neal, too.

A ringing endorsement from Bryant cuts to the heart of O’Neal’s trade demand.

O’Neal has come to realize that he has all the sway of Stanislav Medvedenko with Jerry Buss and Mitch Kupchak and has been sentenced to Bryant’s self-centered world.

Thanks, but no thanks, the Big Aristotle is saying as often as necessary, as if there is something hidden in: “Get me out of L.A. as quickly as possible.”

Get to it, K-Man. Talk to the Big Fellow. Tell him with a straight face that it will be all right, that even though you are Bryant’s hand-picked man, your first obligation is to the Lakers. Sing Duke’s school song, if you must, to O’Neal. That could impress him.

A $40 million offer is a lot to consider, no doubt, and a less secure person than the K-Man already would have a moving van in the driveway.

There is no best-case scenario, by the way. What can the K-Man possibly expect to accomplish with a Shaq-less team that exists on the basis of Bryant’s 30 shots a game?

Well, yes, there is the bank account.

A coach can afford the best indigestion medicine around with $40 million.

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