Nate Oats Apologizes to Coach K: "I Have the Utmost Respect for Him as a Coach"

Nate Oats received nation-wide criticism following a jab he made at Mike Krzyzewski on Thursday regarding the Duke coach's comments on the current season during a pandemic
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After falling on the road in Atlanta at the Holiday Hoopsgiving to Clemson 64-56, Alabama coach Nate Oats took a moment to apologize for comments made earlier in the week regarding Duke basketball and its coach, Mike Krzyzewski.

"I kind of want to publicly apologize to Coach K for what I said," Oats said Saturday night in Atlanta. "I actually felt terrible about it. Right after I got out of the press conference I reached out to him. He was gracious enough to return my call. We had a good talk on the phone and I've got the utmost respect for him as a coach."

Oats had been asked during his Thursday press conference about what Krzyzewski said regarding whether or not the season should be played due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Krzyzewski's Blue Devils started the season with an uncharacteristic 2-2 mark, with the timing raising some eyebrows around the nation.

"You have 2,000 deaths a day. You have 200,000 cases. People are saying the next six weeks are going be the worst. To me, it’s already pretty bad," Krzyzewski said. "On the other side of it, there are these vaccines that are coming out. By the end of the month 20 million vaccine shots will be given. By the end of January or in February, another 100 million. Should we not reassess that? See just what would be best?"

Oats, in turn, was asked what he thought, and quickly fired back to the journalist: "Let me ask you a question. Do you think if Coach K hadn't lost the two non-conference games at home that he would still be saying that?"

Oats added: "We should be playing, in my opinion. We should 100 percent be playing basketball. Nobody talks about the mental aspect.

"I don't agree with them at all."

Oats's comments were met with praise by many of the Alabama faithful but also received criticism on a national level.

Oats said he reached out to Krzyzewski immediately following the press conference. After a talk with the legendary coach, Oats's thoughts on the situation changed.

"It was unnecessary, it was wrong and I apologized to him," Oats said. "We had a good talk, I understand a lot more now where he's coming from. What's best for one program is not necessarily what's best for another program."

To end his apology on Saturday night, Oats finished up with a reminder that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is something that everyone should continue to take seriously.

"I'm definitely wasn't trying to say 'COVID's not serious'," Oats said. "Some people might have taken that. I know the numbers aren't great right now. We need to take all the precautions we can."