He said later that it didn't matter, that he was concerned only about winning Syracuse's 15th game of the season and beating a very good Virginia team.
But then Jim Boeheim admitted that he is sensitive: "always have been, always will be."
Somewhere in between the two sentiments lies the truth. The pragmatist in the Orange's coach knows that the little picture matters more right now than the big one. An Orange team that once looked as good as gone for the season has now won four games in a row, two against ranked opponents, to insert itself back into the ACC race.
Debating the broader issue of complicated records and convoluted résumés can wait for another day.
But knowing the man, knowing both his pride and his inability to walk away from a fight, this stings. Boeheim first walked on to a Syracuse basketball team 54 years ago, as a 17-year-old Orange freshman. He became his alma mater's head coach in 1976, a national champion in 2003 and the face of the program somewhere along the way.
Technically, on Saturday, with a 66-62 win over Virginia, Boeheim became only the second Division I men's basketball coach to win 1,000 games.
Except the record book reads 899. It is not 1,000 with an asterisk. The 1,000 does not appear anywhere. The 101 wins covering the 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons are gone, erased and evaporated by NCAA sanctions handed down in 2015.
"I've been part of 1,000 wins,'' Boeheim told ESPN.com. "Whether they're all there or not doesn't matter to me. I've been part of a lot of wins, and I'm really proud of that.''
But after being pressed, he couldn't entirely toe his own company line.
"I can't comment on that,'' he said at first when asked if vacating victories makes sense.
Then, as is Boeheim's way, he commented.
"People don't realize it wasn't even academics. It was extra benefits," he said. "They had eight games for Fab [Melo]. The rest were extra benefits. But it is what it is. We have to try and get through it. That's all we can do."
That's getting deep into the weeds of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions' report, into details most people don't care to comprehend, let alone debate.
Most take a more simplistic approach. If thousands and thousands of fans and television audiences watch a game, how can the NCAA say it didn't happen? How can 101 teams be credited with a loss if no one technically won the game?
The idea has always seemed silly and even a little petty, but the penalty is in the books and has been for years. Similar rulings cost John Calipari and Steve Fisher two Final Fours each and cost Clem Haskins one at Minnesota. By now, half of Larry Brown's college career has been vacated.
Critics of the coach punished will see a coach properly penalized. Fans of the coach punished will see a coach persecuted. In an online poll, Syracuse fans voted 94 percent in favor of their persecuted coach, saying that Boeheim has won 1,000 games. The naysayers, Boeheim quipped, ''all went to Georgetown or UConn.''
The 94 percent stormed the court after the victory, surely a reaction more to their coach's pseudo-milestone than to the win against the No. 9 team in the country, and the coach rewarded the fans with a triumphant wave as he exited the Carrier Dome, surely more an acknowledgment of the moment than a simple "see ya later."
When Mike Krzyzewski neared 1,000, he got his own hashtag -- #CoachK1K -- and when he achieved the milestone, by beating St. John's, there was gear and plaques and proclamations and videos.
Boeheim said he didn't care. He didn't celebrate his 900th win (technically that didn't happen yet, either ... even though it did in 2012 against Detroit) and would not have wanted a big shindig. But then he said that he appreciated the outpouring.
"It means a lot, and for our fans to be with us, that's expected," he said. "A lot of people have called me to congratulate me or whatever, and that's great."
This, then, is how it will be going forward: a statement followed by an almost contradiction. Boeheim is concentrating on the here and now, but yes, this means something. He doesn't want to say something, but then he needs to say something; he doesn't want a party, but he sure appreciates the impromptu celebration.
Boeheim has never been the easiest riddle to solve. He is reticent yet witty, cruelly critical yet critically honest.
So maybe in some sort of cosmic way, this is how it should be. A complicated man with a complex history has won 1,000 games.
Or is it 899?