“Yes sir, will do,” said Harper, who called the news that Coach K is among his 600,000-plus Instagram followers the best thing he’d heard all day.
When Krzyzewski asked Harper what inspired him to make his recent comments about bringing more flair and emotion to the game of baseball, Harper reiterated what he told ESPN the Magazine’s Tim Keown — that it’s important to keep kids who watch Steph Curry, LeBron James and Cam Newton do electric things on the basketball court and football field excited about the national pastime. Harper also said he appreciates that Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo allows him to play the game like he wants to.
“I say the things for the betterment of the game,” Harper said. “I don’t say the things to pop off or anything like that. I really enjoy learning about the game, I enjoy the history of the game, but times change. As college players, you go into [college] playing like you do and then you go up to the big league level and you have to change a little bit like people say, but you have to enjoy the game still. You have to enjoy what you do on a daily basis and enjoy the home runs, enjoy the shutouts that you throw as a pitcher or the diving catches and things like that because, at the end of the day, it might not be there the next day. You try to enjoy it as much as you can. Work hard, but also enjoy what you do on a daily basis.”
Krzyzewski also praised Harper for “showing some fashion” in his Instagram posts, something Krzyzewski said baseball players don’t get to do as often as NBA and NFL players, whose pregame and postgame attire typically garners more attention.
“All you see is you guys in your uniforms, spitting seeds in the dugout, or spitting all the time,” joked Krzyzewski, who mentioned Yankees legend Derek Jeter as one of baseball’s recent exceptions.
“He went about it the right way every single day he went out there,” Harper said of Jeter. “He respected the game, but there’s a time and a place for it, he always had that fire and emotion, and he brought that to it, and I love that about him. He was one of my favorite players growing up, so being able to see him and playing beside him, was something very special. But also, to the fashion side and things with that, you look good, you feel good, you play good. That starts from the time you wake up in the morning until you go to bed at night. When you’re going to the field and you’re trying to prep for it, if it’s an Instagram post or something like that, I want to draw the crowd, I want to draw the fans to our team. … With me being able to have the amount of followers that I do, I’m able to put the game out there and put forth the effort to bring in the youth and things like that so the game is better in that way.”
Krzyzewski ended the interview by telling Harper that baseball is in good hands with him as a leader.
“For the best players in a sport to want to also be a leader in that sport makes you uncommon,” Krzyzewski said. “I hope you enjoy and get a lot out of being uncommon, not just with your ability, but with your leadership. I think the game will benefit greatly from both fronts, so best of luck in that regard.”
“I appreciate it coach,” Harper replied. “Thank you so much and go Dukies. Good luck to you guys in the tournament.”
Harper does post some pretty cool scenes on Instagram, though…