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Misquoted 'unlike other teams' starts latest Duke-Carolina spat

At least when Gerald Henderson socked Tyler Hansbrough, there was bloody evidence.

No veiled comments, no snide jabs, just a good ol' elbow to the schnozz.

The latest tempest brewing in the always-simmering teapot of college basketball's most heated rivalry seems to be little more than two grown men having a chest-puffing contest.

Like Linus, who insisted on only the most sincere pumpkin patch for the elusive Great Pumpkin, Duke and North Carolina are engaged in a battle to build the best basketball Eden. It is not enough to be No. 1 (Carolina) or No. 5 (Duke) or to gobble up more McDonald's All-Americans; it's about college basketball perfection.

Any and all insinuations from one that the other is (A) dirty, (B) soft, or (C) all of the above and snide to boot set off an imbroglio that would make the Hatfields and the McCoys blanch.

Last year, Carolina claimed Henderson's elbow wasn't errant but a cheap shot. Duke, the school that downplayed Christian Laettner's size 16 stomp on Kentucky's Aminu Timberlake in 1992, wasn't going to sit back and take such an attack. With Carolina easily assuming the role of victim -- it had a black eye to prove it -- Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski swung back, insisting there was no way Henderson intentionally fouled anybody.

And then came the coach's zinger: "The game was over before that. I mean, the outcome of the game, let's put it that way. That's unfortunate, too, that those people were in the game in that play. Maybe this wouldn't have happened."

Which brings us to the latest he-said, I-heard to envelop Tobacco Road. To refresh: During a postgame radio interview last month, Krzyzewski was talking about a nagging knee injury to Nolan Smith when he reportedly said, "Unlike other schools, we don't release our injuries."

Carolina's Roy Williams seethed at the "unlike other schools" line, considering it a snide jab at his injury-riddled team. The Tar Heels coach went apoplectic, spewing dadgums (his version of expletives) all over the place before suggesting that people should "coach their own damn team; I'll coach my team."

The brouhaha grew such legs that it was even pantomimed in a creepy little video segment on something called bookiemom.com (which is creepy in and of itself); a Ken doll plays Krzyzewski and a flannel-shirt-wearing Kewpie doll poses as Williams.

This week, Krzyzewski insisted the offending words, "unlike other schools," never crossed his chronically pursed lips. And, lo and behold, the offending radio station has emerged with the villain's black hat.

Somehow, WRBZ-AM, a Raleigh radio station that is part of the Duke basketball network, misquoted itself. Tricky thing that technology.

After Krzyzewski's postgame interview with WRBZ-AM, "a reliable Duke source" told that same station about the "other schools" line. The station then proceeded to post Krzyzewski's transcript on its Web site, including the offending line. According to station manager Adam Gold, who spoke to The Associated Press, audio clips weren't immediately available. Once the station folks listened to their own audio, they realized the error.

One can ponder the curiosities in the above paragraph -- a radio station that needs a tip from a source to quote itself and then can't listen to its own audio tapes -- all day. No doubt Oliver Stones in Tar Heels blue want the Zapruder films to make sure Krzyzewski's voice wasn't somehow altered.

But Krzyzewski's cleaned-up version -- in tapes obtained by the AP, Krzyzewski said, "You know, we don't put out all our injuries, you know, but we're injured too, you know. I mean everyone's injured." -- isn't drastically different. The meaning is obvious: We're injured but superior because we don't denigrate ourselves by talking about our injuries.

And Williams has hardly toned down his response. UNC director of athletic communications Steve Kirschner told The Raleigh News & Observor that whether Krzyzewski said the offending three words or not, Williams interpreted the remarks as a shot at his team and that the "intent of the statement seemed to comment on our injury situation."

Both coaches now say they want this whole thing to go away, which is what you are supposed to say when controversy threatens to stain your gilded Hall of Fame reputation.

But really, do they? Remember, these two exchanged unpleasantries at the 2000 NCAA Tournament and have turned the eight miles between their campuses into a verbal battlefield.

Williams said this week that if he and Krzyzewski spoke, it would be "a private thing." He then went on to say "but we have not talked," so clearly not talking is OK to talk about.

Krzyzewski, meanwhile, said if he wanted to "tweak somebody," he'd have no trouble doing it more directly, before labeling the whole thing "stupid."

"All of that is so stupid. It's stupid," Krzyzewski said. "That's about all I can say. It's just stupid."

No doubt, but the handshake before Saturday's game at Duke will be analyzed more than any bucket scored.

Dana O'Neil covers college basketball for ESPN.com and can be reached at espnoneil@live.com.