Responding to Duke Hate

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Spencer Hall from the Sporting News jumped on the bandwagon about seven years too late. That’s right, Spencer hates Duke. I sure hope he doesn’t start a trend. Luckily for us though, Hall breaks it down for us, so we can examine why one grown man hates one particular group of college kids over another.

He breaks it down into percentages:
– Forty Percent because they’re really, really good
– Twenty-Five Percent because of Dick Vitale
– Twenty Percent because of flopping
– Fifteen Percent because they are smart and rich

Of course this is nonsense. He should have just saved himself the five minutes he wasted writing this article and just linked to the web site, The Truth About Duke. Let’s break this down the right way. Why Duke is really hated:

– Eighty Percent because Duke wins. Yes, 80%. If Duke won ten games a year, no one would give two shits about Duke. The Blue Devils over the last 25 years has won more games, more titles, appeared in (far more) final fours than anyone else. They’re constantly the #1 seed, yet they keep falling short in the tournament recently. If I wasn’t a fan, I’d be tired of them too. Hell, I am a fan and I’m kind of over it.

– Ten Percent because so many of Duke’s stars have been white. No, America is not suddenly racist against white people and trust me, I have no pity if a few fans want to curse out the whitey. However, I have a theory (and it’s only a theory). We see these white kids and we think, wait, this guy isn’t better than me. I could kick his ass and steal his girlfriend if I saw him in my school. Of course that’s not true. Then there’s the double standard; if Reddick trash talks, he’s being a cocky prick. When a Rashad McCants does it, he’s just keeping it real. Look at any list of ‘hated’ Duke players; Laettner, Hurley, Ferry, Wojo, Collins, Reddick and now Paulus…you see a common thread? It becomes a yearly tradition of trying to figure out who will be the most hated white player on Duke.
– Ten Percent because so many of Duke’s stars have been white. No, America is not suddenly racist against white people and trust me, I have no pity if a few fans want to curse out the whitey. However, I have a theory (and it’s only a theory). We see these white kids and we think, wait, this guy isn’t better than me. I could kick his ass and steal his girlfriend if I saw him in my school. Of course that’s not true. Then there’s the double standard; if Reddick trash talks, he’s being a cocky prick. When a Rashad McCants does it, he’s just keeping it real. Look at any list of ‘hated’ Duke players; Laettner, Hurley, Ferry, Wojo, Collins, Reddick and now Paulus…you see a common thread? It becomes a yearly tradition of trying to figure out who will be the most hated white player on Duke. /

Of course what little proof do I have for my theory? Just look at any comments section or message board when the subject matter is Duke. What’s the one thing white men do to demean another person, they call them gay; not Sheldon Williams, no Grant Hill or Elton Brand, but Wojo, Collins, Reddick, fucking fags!

– The final ten percent is because they’re on TV every other day. Because of Duke’s success and because their fan base is spread throughout the country, almost every game they play appears on TV. If I wasn’t a Duke fan and I only saw my team on TV 5-10 times a year, this would make me sick. Great example, Notre Dame football appears on TV every single game. Hell, they have their own major network. They get their own ‘exception’ for getting in the BCS. It makes me sick and I hate Notre Dame. When they fail, my life just seems a little bit brighter. So yes, I get the Duke hate. The difference is, I don’t make up small petty reasons for my hate…

…which brings us back to Spencer. Any other reason that Spencer Hall comes up with is crap. Again, its people just trying to make up reasons to justify their hate. It’s okay to hate Duke, but you don’t need to come up with faux reasons (mainly, hating them for doing things all teams/coaches/fan sections do). Let’s breakdown his other ‘reasons’.

– Dick Vitale hearts Duke. Yes, he does, but Dickie V loves everything college basketball. He loves Duke, Carolina, the ACC, the Big East, Indiana, ‘The General’ Bobby Knight, UCLA, USC…everything! (Look at the photo, he’s with Mississippi State fans, but he only loves Duke!!!). I could take ten quotes from any ten games and mix them up with ten quotes Vitale says at any Duke game, and guess what, you wouldn’t be able to tell a difference.
– Dick Vitale hearts Duke. Yes, he does, but Dickie V loves everything college basketball. He loves Duke, Carolina, the ACC, the Big East, Indiana, ‘The General’ Bobby Knight, UCLA, USC…everything! (Look at the photo, he’s with Mississippi State fans, but he only loves Duke!!!). I could take ten quotes from any ten games and mix them up with ten quotes Vitale says at any Duke game, and guess what, you wouldn’t be able to tell a difference. /

Now does Vitale heap MORE praise on the Blue Devils? Let’s go ahead and say, for the sake of argument, yes he does. But eliminate your hate for a moment and think, doesn’t Duke deserve this? They’ve been so successful, yet they’ve run a clean program. Is that something to hate? Shouldn’t that not be something basketball announcers should celebrate? Of course Duke isn’t perfect, by no means. Just to name a few, we’ve had a couple of DUI’s, Coach K has been wrong over the years, especially in regard to the Laettner stomp (he should have been thrown out), the berating of the school newspaper, and over the years he’s gotten more distant from the media.

Take a look what else has happened over the years? The two teams that Duke beat in the early 90’s for their first two titles, UNLV and Michigan, both went on probation because of the actions of those players and those teams. Right now, you have a coach like Kelvin Sampson who is on the verge of destroying not one, but two proud programs. You have a great team like Memphis, whose players have been arrested six times in the past year (remember, it doesn’t mean guilt), yet here’s this jackass writing about hating Duke. Where have you’ve been the last five or so years? Shouldn’t you hate cheating coaches and player’s that beat their girlfriends?

– The flopping. This has obviously become the most recent reason for hating Duke. Let’s examine this for a second. Every team takes charges, and every player on every team flops. This has been part of the game since the bottom of the peach baskets were cut out. Does Duke do it more? I don’t know, since I’ve never done any real research. Yet, neither has anyone else. Until someone does a game-by-game study, I’m not buying it. I watch Memphis/Tennessee Saturday night and between the two teams, they ended up on their asses over a dozen times trying to take charges. Sometimes it was called, sometimes it wasn’t, and a few times I didn’t agree with the call.
– The flopping. This has obviously become the most recent reason for hating Duke. Let’s examine this for a second. Every team takes charges, and every player on every team flops. This has been part of the game since the bottom of the peach baskets were cut out. Does Duke do it more? I don’t know, since I’ve never done any real research. Yet, neither has anyone else. Until someone does a game-by-game study, I’m not buying it. I watch Memphis/Tennessee Saturday night and between the two teams, they ended up on their asses over a dozen times trying to take charges. Sometimes it was called, sometimes it wasn’t, and a few times I didn’t agree with the call. /

Paulus is the man now associated with the flop and I will not argue that he doesn’t flop. The question I have is, does it work? Meaning, does he get the call? In the last Maryland game, I counted four times when Paulus ended up on his ass by either taking a charge, or going down when a defender tried to block his shot. Of those four times, the official called a charge, one single time. That’s it. Again, that’s just one game.

This clip posted by ‘Truth About Duke’ during the VCU game last year that everyone always points to is an obvious awful flop, but people tend to forget the two most important details about this clip. A) There was no foul called. B) Duke lost this game.

This clip (and this game) was a great example of when a player decides to flop instead of taking the hit like a man, they’re going to get beat. This clip is a microcosm of why Duke lost this game…sorry, why VCU whipped the Blue Devils in the first round of last year’s tournament. The Devils played the game with no heart and VCU played like men.

Personally, the flopping issue goes to the question of, does Duke get all the calls? Obviously, I say no. This reputation in my mind took off during the Duke National Title Game against Arizona. Two nights earlier, Duke had rallied from 22 down to beat rival Maryland in the semis. The crowd was filled with Arizona fans, Maryland diehards, mixed in with the usual people who tend to cheer for the underdog, so it was heavily favoring the Wildcats. Despite the fact the fouls were called evenly, every foul called on Zona (or perceived missed call on Duke) was heavily booed. Hell, even Billy Packer said this, “The calls really seem to be going Duke’s way.” Mr. Packer said this at the 17-minute mark in the first half when Arizona had two fouls and Duke had two fouls. That’s right, with three minutes played, and two fouls called on each team, Packer had declared that Duke was already getting the calls.

Throughout basketball history, the good teams have always been accused of getting the calls. When Coach K was still trying to establish his program in the early 80’s, he whined to anyone who would listen that Dean Smith and UNC got all the calls. Was he right then? I doubt it. Good teams have good players that are taught good defense. Certainly that doesn’t mean that refs don’t make mistakes and yes, Duke has had games when the calls just went their way (FSU a few years ago, Clemson and the clock last year), but that’s happened to every team. Against Wake Forest, 18 of the last 19 fouls got called on Duke?

There’s two honest questions that need to be asked when talking about the flopping?
– Because Duke has a reputation of being great at taking charges, do the refs give them the benefit of the doubt in those situations?
– Because Duke has become associated with the word flop, wouldn’t the refs know this and not give Duke the calls?

Again, this argument does lend itself to the bigger picture and I always like to take it back to the ‘defensive player of the year’ awards. Duke tends to win this a lot (nine times in fact); King, Wojo, Shane, Sheldon, etc. Are all these awards justified? Even as a Duke fan, I would say no. This award unlike any other is so subjective. In any given year, there are probably two dozen really great defenders who could win this award. There’s no doubt in my mind, that the people who decide this, do elevate a Duke player simple because of A) the uniform and B) the past winners. Is this fair? Probably not, but that’s the facts of life. Good players on great teams will always gets bigger props than good players on smaller teams.

Finally, the last reason Spencer gave was because Duke is smart and rich. This is such a prime example of the ‘bullshit’ reason someone comes up with to justify. This was his money quote:

“To the basketball-watching public, it might be more compelling to watch teams whose players are hell-bent on futures in basketball. If they don’t perform, they might lose more than a game — they might lose their livelihoods. Is that a little sick? Sure.”

Yes Spencer, this is sick.  Most of the time when people use the rich and spoiled line, they’re talking about the Duke student body. The NBA draft is two rounds. 99.9 percent of the kids that play college basketball will never touch an NBA court. Personally I think it’s pretty ignorant of Hall to assume that every black kid not attending Duke is living in poverty, and if they don’t succeed in basketball, then they’ll be back living in the hood.
Yes Spencer, this is sick.  Most of the time when people use the rich and spoiled line, they’re talking about the Duke student body. The NBA draft is two rounds. 99.9 percent of the kids that play college basketball will never touch an NBA court. Personally I think it’s pretty ignorant of Hall to assume that every black kid not attending Duke is living in poverty, and if they don’t succeed in basketball, then they’ll be back living in the hood. /

Guess what Spencer, all kids, black or white, are given a free ride to go to college, some choose to take advantage of it, some don’t. I’m not going to pity some kid who decided it was the NBA or bust (yes, I’m talking about Maryland’s zero graduation rate).

Again, for most fans, the issue with the wealth and privileged comes from the perception of the Duke Student body. Now we’ll ignore the fact that most kids who go to college are either middle-class or up (no matter what the college), but I love the idea that because Duke kids are smart, they must be spoiled assholes.

In Will Blythe’s book, To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever: A Thoroughly Obsessive, Intermittently Uplifting, and Occasionally Unbiased Account of the Duke-North Carolina Basketball Rivalry” (which I highly recommend reading), Blythe talks about why most people in the state of Carolina love UNC, but not Duke. The obvious reason (which is he right about), most of Duke’s students do come from the Northeast, so they’re consider outsiders. However, I believe he gets things mixed up when he throws in politics. He talks about how Carolina’s Dean Smith is a strong liberal and Coach K is a full-fledged conservative. The mistake he makes (and this is how I read it), that these two coach’s political beliefs somehow reflect or mirror their schools/basketball programs.

This of course is just wrong. Dean Smith was a liberal, a great one at that, but UNC (filled mostly with kids from Carolina families) is Bush country. North Carolina voted for Bush twice, Dole, Bush Sr., Reagan twice and of course Nixon twice. Now hear me out, I’m not about to accuse every student at UNC of being the next Tom DeLay (yes, I know he’s from Texas), but remember it was Blythe’s political argument, not mine.

Now there is no doubt that Coach K is a conservative (and I as liberal would disagree on a lot of stuff), however, Duke player’s are the liberal types, even after they become millionaires. Reddick was known liberal, Shane Battier campaigned with Bradley in 2000 and Grant Hill is one of many former Dukies that have come out in support of Obama.

Again, I can’t take a whole fan base and declare it to be one way or another, but for all the hatred Duke students take, without them, other student sections would still be sitting twenty feet behind the basket. Because of the fame the Cameron Crazies have created over the last thirty years, more and more schools are trying to copy them by getting their student sections closer to the action and in front of the cameras. This doesn’t mean Duke has the best fan base, it just means without them, we would never see the other ones. Sure some of the chants the Crazy’s do can be stupid. After doing this for so many years, not every chant is going be gold. But next time you’re in the student section chanting ‘air ball’, don’t forget, that started in Durham.
Again, I can’t take a whole fan base and declare it to be one way or another, but for all the hatred Duke students take, without them, other student sections would still be sitting twenty feet behind the basket. Because of the fame the Cameron Crazies have created over the last thirty years, more and more schools are trying to copy them by getting their student sections closer to the action and in front of the cameras. This doesn’t mean Duke has the best fan base, it just means without them, we would never see the other ones. Sure some of the chants the Crazy’s do can be stupid. After doing this for so many years, not every chant is going be gold. But next time you’re in the student section chanting ‘air ball’, don’t forget, that started in Durham. /

In the end, sometimes no matter what the argument is, there’s no right answer. A lot of people hate Duke because of what happened in 1995 and whether Coach K should have taken the loses when he sat out during the 1995 season?

Most people know the story, after rushing back too early from back surgery, Coach K was forced to sit out the second half of the 1995 season (after his wife told him she would leave him if he didn’t rest). Once in ACC play, Duke fell apart. After a 9-3 start, Duke went 4-15 under Pete Gaudet. Duke haters point out that Coach K decided this after the fact, even though it is well established that the AD made the decision right when Coach  K decided to leave.

The question I have to ask though, if Gaudet went 15-4 instead of 4-15, and then Coach K had taken the wins, wouldn’t these same people be riding Coach K for taking wins that didn’t belong time him, especially whenever he comes up to a milestone? Based on the idea that Coach K did this to protect his record, then we have to assume that all these people are pissed off that Lute Olson isn’t getting credit for the wins/loses for this year’s Wildcat team.

Again, it’s okay to hate Duke. They win, they’re on TV a lot, I get it. Even I can joke, isn’t it funny how Coach K’s commercials last longer in the tournament than his teams do?

Hating is fine. In fact, most Duke fans don’t mind it. I actually find it funny and I do enjoy knowing that people hate Duke more than they love their own team. Quick, the guy behind ‘The Truth Behind Duke’, name his school?

It’s Maryland. Shocking, I know.