Duke basketball: Tar Heel troubles mean Michael Jordan needs Blue Devils

Duke basketball forward Zion Williamson and UNC head coach Roy Williams (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Duke basketball forward Zion Williamson and UNC head coach Roy Williams (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

It’s safe to assume the 1990s Michael Jordan would cringe at seeing that the 2020 update to the famous “Be Like Mike” commercial features two Duke basketball greats.

In Gatorade’s defense, the two Duke basketball faces budding in popularity were the best choices for its newly released ad. Besides, the alma mater of Michael Jordan hasn’t produced much of a recognizable NBA cast ever since the hoop icon’s third and final retirement in 2003 (not a single All-Star since 2008).

This season, Harrison Barnes leads the paltry 14 North Carolina basketball alums at 14.7 points per game and is one of only two ex-Tar Heels averaging double figures. To put those troubles into rivalry perspective, 14 of the 25 Blue Devils who have laced ’em up in The Association this season are averaging more than 10 points; four of them eclipse the 23-point mark, three of whom are under the age of 23 (Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Jayson Tatum).

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In other words, Dukies offer far more help to Gatorade than Heels could right now as the sports-themed beverage company seeks to capitalize on the sudden spike in searches and tweets relating to Jordan, which stem from “The Last Dance” ESPN documentary that has drawn an average of 5.8 million viewers across the first six episodes. So good thing for the trendy Williamson and Tatum:

The above 30-second spot shows Williamson dunking on a lowered goal in a driveway, to which the young Jordan responds with a look of approval. Presumably, the frequent-flyer rookie, who is averaging 23.6 points for the New Orleans Pelicans after putting up 22.6 per game for the 2018-19 Blue Devils, did “like Mike” by taking off from beyond a makeshift foul line.

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Roughly 15 seconds later, there is a brief clip of a cul-de-sac slam from Tatum, who earned All-ACC honors in his one year at Duke and has now become the franchise player for the successful Boston Celtics in only his third season out of college.

Both Williamson and Tatum boast lucrative endorsement deals as key pieces for Jordan Brand and Gatorade.

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