INDIANAPOLIS. On the eve of his team’s first appearance in the Final Four since 2004 Duke men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski was rushed to a hospital for emergency vowel implant surgery designed to clear a passage obstructed with silent letters.
Krzyzewski: “I can’t breathe when I wrinkle my nose like this!”
“He opened his eyes and seemed to recognize me,” said associate head coach Steve Wojcechowski, who donated an “i” that will form part of the head coach’s name if it is not rejected by his immune system. “He told me to tell the kids they should treasure every vowel they have in their names, because each one is precious.”
The Duke press guide provides “shuh-SHEV-ski” as the phonetic pronunciation of the head coach’s name, but Division I colleges are notoriously partisan in matters of pronunciation. “UConn got tired of questions about Emeka Okafor’s name,” said College Hoops USA’s Mike Dundee. “They finally issued a press release that it was pronounced ‘Bob JOHN-son’ and handed out souvenir drink cups.”
Linguistic experts said the Duke coach’s prospects for recovery were good. “‘shuh-SHEV-ski’ is onomatopoeia for the sound of a sneeze in Esperanto,” noted Armand de Saxon, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Illinois-Chicago. “The coach’s name should be pronounced ‘kurzyz-OO-ski’, which is an Albanian demand for an additional male goat in a bride’s dowry.”
Fabric softener not included
Krzyzewski is one of the most successful coaches in college basketball history, having won three NCAA championships, 12 ACC championships, a Kenmore stackable washer-dryer combination and a year’s supply of Mrs. Paul’s Fish Sticks in his 35 years of coaching.
Mientkiewicz: “Gimme an I!”
The procedure that was performed on Krzyzewski is also known as “Doug Mientkiewicz Surgery” after the former Boston Red Sox first baseman whose career was brought to a premature end due to a herniated disk between the fifth and sixth letters of his last name. “We wanted to call it Tommy John Surgery because it was easier to pronounce,” said Dr. Wilhelm Orthorn of Wesley Methodist Hospital in St. Louis, “but that name was taken.”