Coach K, the Russians, and 'Rocky IV'

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If Mike Krzyzewski’s ever going to boost his non-Duke fanbase – few coaches bring out the love/hate dichotomy like Coach K – he needs someone else to be cast as the villain.

Guess he watched “Rocky IV” recently.

Coach K’s been engaged in an entertaining war of words with Russian coach Mike Blatt as the two teams prepared for Thursday’s Team USA-Russia game at the FIBA World Championship (which the U.S. won! USA! USA!). 

Blatt, who was born in the U.S. but now lives in Israel, said the 1972 gold medal game at the Munich Games between the U.S. and Russia – Russia won on a controversial ending – had the correct outcome. Coach K disagreed, telling ESPN’s Chris Sheridan:

“He’s a Russian,” Krzyzewski said of Blatt, who actually holds dual American and Israeli citizenship…

“You know, he coaches the Russian team, so he probably has that viewpoint, and his eyes are clearer now because there are no tears in them,” Krzyzewski said.

Blatt responded in kind to Yahoo! Sports’s Adrian Wojnarowski:

“I think Mike’s overlooked the fact that I’m every bit as much of an American as him,” Blatt told Yahoo! Sports at his team’s hotel. “In America, we’re taught that freedom of speech and freedom of thought allow us to try and view things objectively, form our own opinions and express them. “The ability to do that without risking it being called an act of unpatriotism may be lost upon him.”

A little trash talking before a U.S.-Russia basketball game? Nice. Now if only Rocky and Drago would have boxed at halftime, it would’ve been a real show.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.