Most of the Duke basketball fanbase sort of sees eye to eye with a nemesis.
Imagine a Duke basketball starting five of Jason Williams, JJ Redick, Grant Hill, Zion Williamson, and Christian Laettner. Picture them taking the court to face North Carolina’s Phil Ford, Michael Jordan, Antawn Jamison, James Worthy, and Tyler Hansbrough.
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Yes, several Blue Devil fans and their Tar Heel counterparts suggested some substitutions to the hypothetical matchup that the ACC Network tweeted this week. Nevertheless, when scanning the comments, to no surprise, one general belief is apparent: the battle would be a blowout.
Naturally, as for which group of legends would destroy the other, well, that depends on which side of the aisle each commenter falls. But another shared opinion among the sport’s fiercest rivals best sums up this proposed all-time Duke vs. UNC game: it’d be must-see TV. The individual matchups would have the potential to produce unprecedented amounts of blood, particularly in the paint…
Tyler Hansbrough against Christian Laettner? Yes, please. Just consider the elbows and expletives that’d fly if each of the most despised players in the eyes of the other side squared off. Of course, Ball Durham is betting on the two-time national champ and Final Four four-timer over the bug-eyed baby — even if the refs were to let “Psycho T” get away with his patented shoulder drop into the chest of “The Hated One” time and again.
Granted, on the perimeter, Redick would have his hands full trying to defend Jordan. On the other hand, the catch-and-shoot artist would relentlessly work to come off screens on the other end and at least slightly tire out “His Airness,” who would no doubt be playing through the flu or playing up to some other heroic narrative.
As for the competition at point guard, both sides should agree any advantage would be slight; that said, it’s totally understandable if neither chooses to admit it. Dukies should feel encouraged, though, that Williams is evidently prepared to face Ford, despite limited video to scout from his heyday:
Moving on, the definition of “pipe dream” is that Jamison, despite his being a past nightmare for Blue Devils, would get the better of Hill, a dude who as a senior in 1994 almost won a third natty, basically single-handedly.
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As for the duel between Williamson and Worthy, let’s just hope Zion doubters continue whining about all his hype, for the criticism sure has worked out well for the 2019 Naismith Player of the Year who has become a contender for NBA Rookie of the Year via only 19 games as a pro.
How the Duke basketball starters stack up to the Tar Heels, numbers-wise
Now, for those of you seeking a fair-and-balanced numerical comparison of the combined college achievements from the two sets of starters, thankfully we have Ball Durham contributor Rick Heidrick for that:
Looks like a draw to these Duke basketball eyes. However, we haven’t yet considered the coaches. Yup, whether the other bench had Roy Williams or the late Dean Smith, the mere presence of Mike Krzyzewski, who has the same number of national titles as that pair’s combined total, would have this thing over by halftime.
Yet even if the Duke basketball greats were down big with minutes to play due to favorable officiating for Hansbrough and Jordan, we all know Coach K could sub in Austin Rivers, Wendell Moore, and a Jones brother or two to suddenly turn UNC cheers into tears.
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