Earlier this week, the University of Pittsburgh hired former Duke basketball star Jeff Capel—who has spent the last two decades coaching at Old Dominion, VCU, Oklahoma, and Duke—to be their new head coach. Capel will take over a team that finished 8-24 overall and 0-18 in the ACC this season.
As news of Capel’s hiring made the rounds on social media, more than a few people did what they always seem to do whenever Capel’s name is in the news. They shared an iconic photo of 2Pac wearing Capel’s Duke jersey back in the 1990s. The legendary rapper was actually spotted wearing Capel’s jersey on a number of occasions back then, but there is one photo, in particular, that gets shared on Twitter whenever Capel does anything newsworthy.
Despite the fact that the photo has become so iconic that a different Capel jersey 2Pac owned was auctioned off and sold for thousands of dollars in 2017, Capel has not really been asked for his thoughts on the photo—until now.
On Wednesday, Capel held his introductory press conference at Pitt, and he talked about all of the things you would expect him to on his first day on the job. He discussed what he plans to do to turn the Panthers around, how he’s going to attack the recruiting circuit, what he learned from serving as an assistant to Coach K at Duke over the last seven years, and more.
But after that was done, he also took the time to speak with Sean Gentille of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about—you guessed it—that infamous 2Pac photo.
Capel said the first time he saw 2Pac wearing his jersey was back in 1996 when the rapper was on MTV with the jersey on. You can see him talking about the East Coast vs. West Coast beef with Simon Rex in the clip below while wearing his Capel jersey.
Capel told the PPG he thought it was "the coolest thing" to see 2Pac wearing his jersey.
But Capel also revealed that there have been a lot of people over the years who have tried to pour cold water on him by saying that 2Pac wasn’t wearing his jersey. Capel said he’s been quick to shut those people down.
"As I got older, I started seeing the pictures that were out there of him," Capel said. "There are other pictures of him with the jersey on, and I would always tell people [who said], 'Oh, that wasn’t your jersey.' I was like, 'Look, man, ‘Pac died in ’96. That was during the time—there was no other No. 5 during that time.'"
Capel also admitted that he has learned how to use the 2Pac photo to his advantage. While you could argue that today’s teenagers might not idolize 2Pac in the same way as teenagers did a decade ago, Capel said he’s not above pulling the photo out and showing it to recruits. Capel—who is considered to be one of the best recruiters in college basketball—said he once used it as a recruiting tool when chasing after an unnamed player who was friends with one of today’s famous rappers.
"I showed it to one kid. I did show it to one kid. Because he had a picture with a famous rapper and had a relationship [with him]," Capel said. "I was like, 'Hey, I’ve got one, too. This guy wore my jersey.' So I did do that one time, yeah."
Pretty cool story overall. But unfortunately, no word yet on what Capel thinks about the time Tyga wore his jersey. Think he uses that for recruiting, too?