March 19, 2009— -- You know it's March Madness time when the daggers start flying -- even if for a little fun.
President Obama Thursday afternoon responded to Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's lighthearted jab that the president should be focused on the economy, not NCAA basketball.
Obama called into the Ed Schultz radio show and was asked about Coach K's mild snub over his NCAA picks.
"Coach K, I think, is a great coach. And you know, Reggie Love, my assistant, played for Coach K. And so it's not surprising. I didn't pick him to go to the finals. Look he's a competitive guy, I just don't think they've got the inside game to go all the way. But I look forward to him proving me wrong," the president said.
It all started when Obama revealed his bracket in an interview with ESPN this week. The president predicted North Carolina, Louisville, Memphis and Pittsburgh would make it to the Final Four, with the Tar Heels winning the tournament. Not included in his Final Four -- Duke.
And he ruffled the Duke coach's feathers slightly while doing so.
"Somebody said that we're not in President Obama's Final Four," Krzyzewski said from the Blue Devils' first-round site in Greensboro, N.C. "And as much as I respect what he's doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets."
The coach said, in referring to the president's picks, "Why would I care about that? I love the guy, and I think he's gonna be great."
Choosing Pitt over Duke was probably the hardest decision the president had to make. Obama's personal aide and right-hand man, Reggie Love, hails from Duke, where he played basketball and football.
"Because of Reggie Love, I've got to pick Duke," Obama said Tuesday when picking Duke over Nova in the Sweet 16. But "no, no, not the whole way. Come on."
Apparently, Love doesn't have that much influence when it comes to basketball.
"Reggie says [Kyle] Singler is going to be able to guard Blair. I don't think so," the president said in the ESPN interview. "I still think that Duke, a lot of skilled parameter players, [but] they just don't have the muscle inside. I think [Pitt's DeJuan] Blair is going to eat them up."