Mike Krzyzewski (AP/Nell Redmond)

Duke basketball coach: Fighting ISIS is a lot like coaching a basketball team...

The legendary "Coach K" has an extremely dumb sports metaphor to share about Obama's war strategy

Jim Newell
November 4, 2014 10:58PM (UTC)

The dumbest analysis you will hear on Election Day will not be by a dumb pundit on a dumb cable news channel. It will be from the dumb coach of the Duke basketball team, Mike Krzyzewski, talking about the ISIS war.

The Daily Beast reports today on remarks that the esteemed Coach K made last month at an Association of the U.S. Army conference. The take was so scorching hot that it needed some time to cool off before it could be reported. How hot could it have been? What we're dealing with here is an extended sports metaphor about President Obama's decision not to deploy ground combat troops to Iraq and Syria. That hot.


"Krzyzewski," the Daily Beast writes, "told an audience of hundreds of military officers, defense contractors, and Army supporters that Obama has disrespected the U.S. Army by not using its infantrymen to fight in the war against ISIS." In Krzyzewski's words: "I know it’s upsetting to many of you when you hear 'no boots on the ground.'" Yeah, infantrymen must be sorely disappointed that they won't be deployed to the front lines of a ground war in Syria.

And then we get REAL SPORTSY:

After a round of applause, Krzyzewski explained why Obama’s public announcement that he won’t use ground troops against ISIS was just bad coaching - because it allows the other team to stop preparing for it and gives them added confidence.

“It’s about letting your opponent know we are going to use our best players. And whether we use them or not, that’s up to the coach. You never tell your opponent you are not going to use [them], like I’m not going to play Grant Hill, J.J. Redick, -Christian] Laettner,” he said, rattling off the names of some of his biggest stars at Duke.

The former Olympic coach then turned the metaphor to international play, comparing Obama’s words to saying, “‘Hey Spain, I’m not going to start Lebron [James] and Kobe [Bryant] tonight.’ I don’t think you do that. Now how much I play them? Let the guy try to figure out how much I’m going to play them.”

The main problem with using a sports metaphor to explain military action is that no one dies in sports. (For the most part.) Sports don't matter because they are sports, they are games. They are fun to watch because they are games and have no actual real-life consequences. Duke doesn't win basketball games by throwing grenades at the other team's bench and killing all the other players. They win by getting overly favorable treatment from the referees. Just kidding, just kidding. (??)

Jim Newell

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

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Barack Obama Editor's Picks Iraq Isis Mike Krzyzewski Military Sports Syria War

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