- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Enough already with Mike Krzyzewski and the American Express commercial.

Put this over-the-top appeal in storage. Be done with this insufferable message.

It is trite. It is silly. It is annoying.

We get it already.

Coach K is a visionary who sees beyond the lines of a basketball floor. As one of the compelling thinkers of our times, he sees the big picture of life. He is Mahatma Gandhi with a whistle and clipboard, clad in a suit instead of a loincloth.

Look, Coach K is entitled to pitch whichever products he wants and earn an extra buck. And in this case, he has made what amounts to a recruiting video, which, understandably, has resulted in a certain level of consternation among his competitors.

They see the commercial as a recruiting advantage, which it is, of course. But Coach K has earned that advantage on the basketball court, and he is free to deploy it however he sees fit.

But here is where the ad goes wrong, especially on the 100th viewing: It confirms what Coach K and the Duke brigade profess not to understand each college basketball season. They profess not to understand why the Duke basketball program is perceived to be smug, arrogant and just so above it all.

So here is Coach K, in this sanctimonious burst of commercialism, rising to the charges he finds so unfair.

“I am a leader who happens to coach basketball,” he says in the bit. “When they get out into the workplace, they’re armed with not just a jump shot or a dribble. I want you armed for life. I want you to develop as a player. I want you to develop as a student, and I want you to develop as a human being. My life isn’t about playing games. That’s why my card is American Express.”

Oh, stop. You are killing us, Coach K.

Essentially, Coach K is saying the sun rises from the east each morning, and because he is the one saying it, we are obligated to nod our heads in agreement and say, “Heavy. The man is heavy. He is saying you need to be armed for life, not just for a basketball court. Wow!”

Really, who does not know this?

They even know it in other countries. They know it so well that many immigrate to our country and work and go to school and, believe it or not, most are not even “armed with a jump shot or a dribble.”

Instead, they are “arming” themselves for life, and they are “developing as human beings,” and blah, blah, blah.

This is not complex stuff. You go to school or you learn a trade. You then spend 45 years in the workforce. You should do fine.

Coaches have been mining variations of this material since forever. They want to build character. They want to improve you. They embrace the total you.

Jerry Tarkanian once saw himself as the Father Flanagan of the profession as he sought to save all too many academic suspects, so long as the suspects came with overactive pituitary glands.

Now we see Coach K packaged as this saintly figure standing at the pearly gates of Duke.

His spiel might as well come with a one-word scrawl at the bottom of the screen: “Duh.”

He wants to develop you as a “player, student and human being.”

And he wants you to join the Duke program if you meet his basketball requirements, which is implied but never stated.

No, his life isn’t about playing games. Wink, wink.

We apparently are not supposed to notice that Coach K is appearing in one of the biggest games of all, the advertising game, using the power of his celebrity to advance the cause of American Express.

Or perhaps we are supposed to be too dumb to notice.

You go ahead and reach for your America Express card on Coach K’s say-so.

Some of us are reaching for an air sickness bag instead.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide