After preparing his troops for their upcoming Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament game against Duke, Utah Utes head coach Larry Krystkowiak attempted to pull a rabbit out of his hat. He stepped up to the center circle on the Huntsman Center floor on Mon. March 23, took one bounce and heaved the basketball towards a hoop 50 feet away.
Now keep in mind, this was just for fun. Of course, LeBron will do this on occasion to blow off steam and be a kid. But Krystkowiak? The guy is 6-foot-10. He’s pushing 50. Why would a 6-foot-10-inch head coach pushing 50 have any business heaving a halfcourt shot?
It’s not like the shot was for $1 million–which is the norm. Nope, Coach K was just finishing up a long practice with his Runnin’ Utes. And so with recorders and cameras nearby, none of the circus seemed to faze Krystkowiak, who leaned forward on the block U painted on the center circle, and threw it up on one leg.
Honestly, the shot looked like a prayer going up. It had absolutely no chance of going straight into the hoop. In fact, it looked short. But, as trick shots often do, there was something else–something more sinister to this shot.
In fact, you can imagine Krystkowiak as a kid begging his buddies to dump more money into the pot back in his hometown of Shelby, Montana, an oil town punctuated by grain elevators sweeping into the big sky and once home to one of the greatest boxing matches of all time.
You can picture Krystkowiak playing on a dusty floor speckled with wheat seeds, laughing it up with his buddies as they fire up trick shots towards some old, rickety rim. That is, until they bet him he can’t make his shot.
Fast forward to Monday then, as Coach K and the media stand 50 feet away from a rim. In a way, this moment is a testament to how far Krystkowiak has come in his life. Shelby, The University of Montana, the pros, back to UM and the the pros as a coach and now, standing on a basketball court at the University of Utah as the head ball coach going to the Sweet 16.
Something kind of funny happened to the ball on the way to that hoop in Salt Lake City Monday afternoon. Just as the shot looked like it was coming up short, it bounced just before it arced downward toward the rim. The ball leapt off the floor, caroming into the backboard before it bounced twice and fell into the hoop.
Krystkowiak then walked toward the media assembled on the sideline, acting as if he’s done this kind of thing one million times before and started talking about the Utes’ upcoming tussle with mighty Duke and the other Coach K.
But you have to wonder in the back of your mind, how many times has Krystkowiak made that shot? Shelby with his buddies? Missoula for lunch money? Milwaukee for a lot more money? Salt Lake City?
Krystkowiak’s trick shot made ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays of the day at No. 10. Reporter Patrick Kinahan of 1280 The Zone has apparently seen this shot a zillion times, because on the video he couldn’t have cared less whether the thing went in or not. PK just wanted some juicy gossip–and his money back–from the man.
For Krystkowiak though, it was just another day at the office and another way of blowing off some steam before he opened up to the surly, cantankerous media.