GB off to shaky start in basketball for Commonwealth Games

By Saeed Ghani, BBC World Service

No. 5 Duke’s near-miss victory over No. 10 Valparaiso – which they did later on by beating the Citadel – didn’t mar the joy of Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team after they made history. Yes, they beat their rival – who started Joe Jackson of the Bryant team in 1978 for their most recent loss to Duke in the NCAA’s – 64-58 on Friday night in Brooklyn. But not before the Dean Dome – the venue in Greensboro, North Carolina – was abuzz with reports of Commodores coach Ed Dean’s chest pains. In fact, the news that Dean was rushed to hospital took place in the same hour that the video went viral of Calvin Murphy (yes, the one who played for the Boston Celtics) heading home from the gym with his hat down and a big grin on his face. Coach Krzyzewski gave Coach Dean his order: “Shut up. It’s a game.” Basketball stories are a pretty ubiquitous element in this part of the world, as you will hear from most of the NBA players, but I think their appearances in the news (after this incident of course) was the first time the people of the South Atlantic have heard of Kentucky coach, John Calipari, whose exploits have attracted so much attention from around the world. Young players from across the entire country wanted to pick his brain Why? Well, because the number “3” isn’t very rare in the world of college basketball, especially in Kentucky. On average, it is three times rare. UK is the world’s No.2 ranked college basketball team, and he has the highest player stock. There are further perks to being highly ranked in any sport (from the rare T-shirts to rare platforms on which to do interviews) and UK – like their opponent – is too young to see the benefits of it all. Players like Jamal Murray and Malik Monk, both point guards, say they will be investing in their futures now after the birth of their first child. How much that means, I guess, depends on what the recession says. All of this attention is surely a good thing for a sport that is just beginning to make its way into the mainstream. But I am not sure they had a clue what they had gone in for in Greensboro. Sport aside, it also happened to be a close election for governor of North Carolina, where two former Democrats are vying to replace outgoing Republican incumbent Pat McCrory. And even though the Republicans haven’t won the race yet, it is clear the future is bright for the state in all kinds of ways, but especially in the state of basketball. Much of the talk about basketball has centred on Coach Dean, but as his almost anonymous life flashed before my eyes from the game footage, there is another tremendous basketball story – just my guess – that you may not have heard of that the likes of Coach Krzyzewski just happened to see.

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