Duke Basketball: Undefeated dream is fun, healthy fandom (not harmful)

Duke basketball freshman Zion Williamson (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Duke basketball freshman Zion Williamson (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Relax, joy-killer realists, Duke basketball fans who are openly hoping for — or even predicting or expecting — an undefeated season hear you; that doesn’t mean they have to adhere to your cautious take or tone down the expression of their own dream just because you told them to.

Yes, we understand the Duke basketball team’s 118-84 win against No. 2 Kentucky on Tuesday night was just one game.


Yes, we understand our dream of an undefeated season for the Blue Devils is practically impossible considering the amount of parity in the college game, the difficulty of playing in opponents’ arenas, the possibility of injuries, and the top-to-bottom strength of the ACC.

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But dreaming of the seemingly impossible is what being a fan is all about, at least to those of us who can quote every line of Rudy — this article’s central argument is best summarized by what Rudy’s best friend, Pete, said his dad always told him: “Having dreams is what makes life tolerable.”

Yes, we understand that voicing our dream on social media or to our friends — or even here at Ball Durham — can force us to eat our words if the Blue Devils go on to lose more than a handful of games and exit the Big Dance before the end of the first weekend.


We can handle it. After all, having to face rival fans at work or school the day after a dream-crushing loss is a nightmare that every outspoken sports fan in the world has experienced, other than some first-grader in Alabama who just started rooting for his dad’s favorite college football program at the end of last season.

What we don’t understand, though, is how our outspoken dream — even if it is most likely to be crushed — somehow offends or upsets those Duke fans who choose to have a more realistic outlook.

Even more inexplicable is when Joe The Realist tells us we’re putting too much pressure on the players or that we will jinx them.

Stop it. That’s ridiculous.

First, if you think that pressure has any negative impact on these freshmen Blue Devils, you must not have been tuned in on Tuesday night to watch them play their first college game in what was the most-hyped season opener in the history of college basketball.

Also, our words won’t keep Zion Williamson from being able to leap into another galaxy. They won’t keep alpha-male R.J. Barrett from scoring buckets as easily as “student-athletes” at a “university” near Duke pass “classes.” They won’t keep Cam Reddish from being able to magically stay off the radar despite resembling a mix of Grant Hill and Jayson Tatum. And they won’t keep Tre Jones from playing just like his older brother, Tyus — no, that’s obviously just in his genes.

Even if our words do somehow impact this incredible group of freshmen, telling us dreamers not to set the bar too high is futile.

We’re out there. We always have been and always will be. Heck, I boldly voiced my hope Duke squads would go undefeated even when Greg Paulus was the point guard.

What happened when it didn’t happen?

I owned up to what I said, took one on the chin, further learned to deal with disappointment without acting like a first-grader, poked fun at myself, gained a little character, and then refused to ever stop dreaming of undefeated seasons in the future just because Paulus couldn’t get the job done.

After all, if it does happen — it hasn’t since the Indiana Hoosiers went 32-0 in the 1975-76 season — we won’t be telling the realists that we told you so. No, we’ll be nice. We’ll still let you come to the party.

You know why?

Because our Dukies will have just pulled off the impossible; our excitement from that happening will cause us to forget all who had scolded us for ever mentioning it before it did happen.

Plus, by that time, we will already be on to our next unrealistic dream: Zion deciding to come back for a second season at Duke.


If any among us make that claim, please direct them to the nearest mental ward immediately.

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In summary, dreamers, don’t let the realists bully you into keeping your wildest dreams for this team to yourself. As for the realists, lighten up, watch, try to enjoy, and maybe even have the audacity to do a little crazy dreaming of your own — because Rudy once showed it’s healthy to do so and the game of Zion “Lefty LeBron” Williamson deserves nothing less.