LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Well, my weekend bingo card didn’t have “Going viral on Twitter” on it, but here we are.
I’m sitting here writing this column as my phone continues to light up with more Twitter notifications than I've gotten in the six years I've had the app, and I’m still trying to process everything that happened this past weekend. So let’s rewind.
Fellow Chronicle men’s basketball beat writer Shane Smith and I decided to make the nine-hour road trip to Louisville to cover the Duke game, and as we rolled into town, my only concern was making sure the sport coat I borrowed from our sports editor didn’t get wrinkled in the trunk.
After waking up the next morning to the smell of the previous night’s White Castle sliders, Shane and I made our way over to the KFC Yum! Center for the game, and I prepared to watch my first live sporting event since March.
It was a fun game to cover, as all the ones that come down to the wire are, and then we hustled back to the media room to join the Zoom call for the postgame press conference.
I asked Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore Jr. a question each about the crowd noise in one of the few games this season the Blue Devils have played in front of fans, and then head coach Mike Krzyzewski took the podium. I was one of an array of media members to raise my virtual hand, so I figured my chances of getting to ask my question to him were slim, but all of a sudden I heard my name called by the moderator and began to speak.
“I’m just curious as to what the next step forward here is for the team as you guys move into another week of basketball,” I said.
Coach K’s response was far from ideal, but after the press conference I went about writing my postgame article like any other game I’ve covered, albeit slightly embarrassed after being roasted in a room full of my fellow reporters.
I then sat at a pizza joint with Shane, oblivious to the Twitter chatter surrounding the encounter I had with Coach K. When I did find out, I didn’t know what I should do. But thankfully, I remembered what I just told Krzyzewski—I’m an economics major. And this is just a good old-fashioned opportunity cost problem.
I could have cowered in the shadows until a Twitter troll inevitably tracked me down and presented me to the world.
Or I could go another route. I could quote one of the multiple tweets that were going viral and show that I thought my question was good in the moment and I still do now.
Coming up with the tweet was the fun part considering I didn’t even know what emotion was running through my body. I couldn’t have told you if I was upset at Coach K for roasting me, excited to see myself going viral or nervous that thousands of people were about to flood my Twitter mentions.
Ultimately, I settled on saying the only thing that I was sure of: This was not exactly how I expected my first postgame question to Coach K to go.
It was entertaining to follow the tweet on our long drive back to Durham, but once I got back to my apartment building, the weekend had another surprise in store for me.
My phone rang and Coach K was on the other end of the line.
Our call was short, but the sincerity in his apology was genuine. And in the end, I appreciated the call.
What I will remember most from this weekend, however, is the support from all the journalists (both sports and non-sports) who reached out or replied on Twitter, and I can’t thank everyone enough for that. As a young journalist figuring the industry out, it was a tremendous confidence-booster to see so many other people in the field encouraging me to keep asking questions, and I fully plan on doing so.
Right after I finish studying for my Econ test.
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Jake Piazza is a Trinity senior and was sports editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.