College Basketball Nation: Jay-Z

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is not known for his lighter side. He is known for being, well, Coach K: laser eyes, furrowed brow, temples that look like they're going to burst, hair that hasn't moved in decades, that stare. The man whose basketball career was born under Bob Knight at West Point only rarely breaks into comedy, and even then the humor comes drenched in subtle, caustic restraint. After so many years coaching and so many wins, Coach K has been in the public eye so long -- and has been so reliably unchanged -- that we feel like we know everything there is to know about the guy.

After all these years, you certainly don't expect to hear Coach K fawn over a celebrity pop singer. And you definitely don't expect him to describe said fawning in the manner of a 10-year-old One Direction fan.

“I really love Jay-Z, I do, I love Jay-Z,” Krzyzewski said. “But I'm madly in love with Beyonce."

What ... wait?

“I admit it. My three daughters, my wife of 44 years knows it; they're not worried. Just because I'm still competitive, I think there's a shot in hell, at least, that something might happen. If I stop thinking that way, then I stop coaching. You have to always think you can win.”

Those aren't real quotes, are they? Is this some sort of parody? Coach K? Hello?

Nope. Not a parody. Those are real quotes taken from Krzyzewski's speech to Duke graduate students who "tented" outside Cameron Indoor Stadium last weekend in the hopes of scoring tickets to Blue Devils basketball games this season. (Duke graduate students don't line up on a game-to-game basis the same way as undergrads; their legwork comes all at once during the preseason.)

And those aren't even the best bits! Coach K launched into an entire heartfelt story about the time he met Jay-Z and Beyonce and just how aflutter Queen Bey set his heart. Seriously!

"So anyway, I go up on stage and do 10 minutes and say really nice things about LeBron, Jay and of course Beyonce. The event's over, and this is where my street cred, like, was bouncing all over the world. I'm asked to come up on stage and take a picture with LeBron and Jay. So it's LeBron, Jay and K. It's on Twitter, Instagram, I don't know, was Vine going then? It's on all that crap. I mean in Hong Kong, Beijing, Moscow. [It's] going all over the place. I am the coolest 65-year-old [inaudible]. However, however, what I want has not happened yet. I want to meet Beyonce."
"I go up to Beyonce. You know how guys think they have a lot of good lines? And, so I go up and I'm nervous as I can be. I'm like a teenager. And I go to her with a great line. I say, 'Hi, I'm Coach K.' And she said, 'Coach, I know who you are. I just listened to you for 10 minutes.' Like, patting me on the head. Little boy."
"So now I feel like I'm 11. So what's my next line? I come up and I say, 'You're my favorite.' My face is red as can be, you know, I'm like 4 feet tall right now. And she says, 'Well, that's nice.' And I asked her -- and I don't usually do this -- but I said, 'Would you take a picture with me?' So she takes a picture with me and I look, really, like I'm 12. But my street cred, as big as the other one was, goes everywhere. So, tonight, it's not like being with Beyonce -- it's as good as being with Jay-Z."

The photo Coach K is referring to was taken nine months ago, at a gala honoring Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year LeBron James:

Which, all things considered, no one would have thought much of. I would have assumed Coach K was at the Sportsman banquet, and I would have assumed he would have had his photo taken with Jay-Z and Beyonce if only to improve, as he says, his "street cred." What makes this story so great is how human it makes Coach K seem. It's like finding old love letters your stern, inscrutable father wrote to his high school sweetheart 30 years ago. It is confusing and scary and potentially world changing. Coach K has feelings, too? Coach K has feelings, too!

Anyway, after Krzyzewski finished his adorable story of schoolyard love, he wrapped up his talk with a special message for the assembled graduate student ticket hopefuls:

"And, look, if we're playing the school you went to undergraduate school, don't come to the goddamn game."

Now that's more like it.
This weekend, the rapper Jay-Z (perhaps you've heard of him) presided over a rather momentous occasion. He began an eight-show run in which he is opening the Barclays Center, downtown Brooklyn's newest arena and home of the New Jersey Nets (in which Jigga has a small financial but large symbolic stake).

And, of course, on opening night, John Calipari was most definitely in the building. Two tweets announced his presence, where Calipari was backstage with the Jiggaman -- and "my good friend" Irv Gotti (!!) -- himself:

The fine remark is made in reference to the now-famous incident -- famous enough that Jay-Z has since made an incredibly catchy (and not safe for work) hook about it -- when Hov was fined by the NBA for being in the Kentucky locker room during the 2011 NCAA tournament. Calipari's well-worked connections with Jay-Z are nothing particularly new.

They are, however, well timed. Julius Randle, the third-ranked player in the class of 2013, is a Kentucky target. He is also a very big Jay-Z fan. And the hip-hop love doesn't stop there. Earlier this month, Randle visited UK's campus and chronicled that visit in a blog post for USA Today High School Sports. In it, he reveals his love for Drake, and his thrill at the chance to meet the Kitten Whisperer aka Young Garnier Fructis:
We went to the Alumni Game after that and it was really live. I was sitting behind the bench and then Drake walked in and the whole place went just crazy. I mean they just went wild for Drake. [...]

After the game my mom wanted to get a picture with Drake so he came over and took a pic with us. He wished me luck with my decision and he said that he was looking forward to seeing me play too. That was really cool because he’s definitely in my top three as far as favorite rappers. Jay Z is on top for me.

In case you needed another explanation of why Calipari is so good at recruiting -- and trust me, you really don't -- here you go. Of course, that doesn't mean other coaches are lying down. Apparently, after Calipari showed Randle his title ring, UNC coach Roy Williams pulled up to the kid's house with a full case of jewelry items won at various times throughout his career. Let Ol' Roy show you what his closet on; gems in the display case, call it a rockathon:
Well, after our report of Randle and his mother Carolyn Kyles being wildly impressed with Calipari's bling, North Carolina coach Roy Williams came prepared to one-up Calipari.

"More like 31-up," Randle said.

During his presentation Tuesday night, Williams opened a case of 30 rings -- everything from conference titles to Final Four berths to national titles -- that he'd collected over the years.

"When coach Williams opened the case you almost couldn't look directly in it for fear of going blind," Randle joked. "It was crazy."
Famous rappers (one a legend, the other Charmin-soft) versus a pantry full of jewelry. Tough call. Who you got?

Anyway, wherever Randle eventually chooses to play his college hoops, one thing's for sure: He'll have seen every last stop pulled out before doing so.
Incoming freshmen should anticipate major adjustments at the Division I level. The players are bigger, stronger and faster.

But the uptick in competition is only part of the transition from high school to college. The 21st-century college basketball player should understand off-court expectations, too.

They're all about adhering to proper swagger etiquette.

I hope you all have notepads ready. Here’s what you’ll need to get ready for Division I basketball off the floor:
  • An Instagram account: Twitter is so 2011. These days, college basketball players send messages through photos via Instagram. It’s a cool tool. You take photos, attach a brief memo and ship the image to the world. Or if you’re Jared Sullinger, you send photos of text-message exchanges with other All-America forwards. You need this. Trust me.
  • Friendships with rappers: Blame Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins. Lil Wayne’s highly publicized crush on the talented guard dramatically increased her street cred and Twitter follower count. Jay-Z sat behind Kentucky’s bench during the Final Four. Romeo Miller (the onetime Lil' Romeo who now just goes by Romeo) didn’t just support USC basketball. He actually joined the team. Find a rapper. Become his friend.
  • Fashionable specs: I know. You have 20/20 vision. Doesn’t matter. This is all about style. I learned about this recent development in college basketball fashion from Michigan State’s Adreian Payne. He says his black glasses project sophistication. It’s either that or an affinity for Clark Kent.
  • [+] EnlargeNerlens Noel
    Kelly Kline/Getty ImagesNerlens Noel brings a signature coif to Kentucky ... but does he have the right backpack?
  • The Kevin Durant backpack: Throw the gym bag in the trash. That’s old school. You need a backpack. Not a normal backpack. You won’t haul anything in it. You need a backpack that’s also a fashion statement. Durant’s backpack -- one he wears to postgame press conferences -- started this trend.
  • Access to a state-of-the-art facility: Florida State’s players get access to their team’s practice facility by placing their hands on some sort of “Star Trek” detection device. Indiana’s facility features underwater treadmills in the training room, his and hers gyms for the men’s and women’s squads and an atrium that doubles as a museum for Indiana basketball. Players’ lounges -- think college kids bonding, not “Shaft” -- are standard, too. And then, there’s Oklahoma State’s basketball facility. Is that legal?
  • Trend-setting hair: Nerlens Noel is covered. But what about the rest of the incoming freshmen? Will your hair matter? It definitely did for Wisconsin’s Mike Bruesewitz. Stores in Madison sell wigs of his former curly-afro look. Still waiting for the cornrows version. The hair on top of St. Louis guard Jordair Jett’s head can only be described as majestic. Talk to your barber about this.
  • Beats by Dre headphones: Yes, they’re $300 headphones, but a multitude of college players wears them and, somehow, purchases them. They’re a necessity, I guess. You either have a pair of mammoth Beats by Dre headphones or you don’t wear headphones in public as a Division I basketball player. I don’t think the headphones offer a real advantage over their competitors. But, they’re the norm for college basketball players. The obsession with Dr. Dre’s headphones among NBA players has certainly trickled down. Even high school players demand them now. Put it on the shopping list.

Feel free to add on …
And by "cost him," I mean the business, man won't even think twice before writing the check. Still, whether his accountant notices or not, Jay-Z is likely to be sending some stacks the NBA's way.

Why? See, Hov was in the Prudential Center Sunday, and after he watched Kentucky clinch a Final Four berth with a win over North Carolina, he decided to stop by the Wildcats' locker room and congratulate the team.

That led to this photo, which might be the single coolest photo any member of this Kentucky team will ever take. Everyone on the team needs to have that one framed immediately. That also led to a minor but noteworthy confirmation from NBA spokesman Tim Frank, who told the Associated Press that the NBA would be investigating Jay-Z's visit with the not-yet-draft-eligible Wildcats.

So, what's the punishment? It won't be too serious. As Kurt Helin at Pro Basketball Talk notes, Jay-Z wasn't there recruiting for the Nets, or attempting to sway either of the Wildcats first-round NBA draft picks (Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight). He was merely there as a fan. Still, Celtics GM Danny Ainge was fined $30,000 by the NBA for having a conversation with Kevin Durant's mother at the 2007 Big 12 tournament. Jay-Z's "offense" was a little more brazen: He was in the locker room, in direct contact with players, and he even paused to take a photo.

In other words, Mr. Carter will be paying quite a bit more than three stacks to the NBA league office shortly. Fortunately, as we know from basically every Jay-Z song ever, he can afford it.