The most hated Duke basketball faces: Five honorable mentions
To help limit the number of honorable mentions to the five below, let’s exclude Duke basketball figures from before 1980. After all, back then, though there was a great deal of local animosity for certain Blue Devils (see: Art Heyman), there was no ESPN or Twitter to help spread those feelings.
Jay Bilas – Sure, Jay Bilas (1982-86) wasn’t much of a target for sneers and jeers during his Duke basketball playing days. Yet nowadays, as arguably the face of ESPN’s college hoops coverage, there’s no doubt that opposing fanbases loathe every word that comes out of his know-it-all “Dookie” mouth.
Dahntay Jones – The in-your-face slams and the in-your-face defense of Dahntay Jones (2001-03) surely rubbed some wrong the way. But it was the even-more-in-your-face taunts — head coaches not exempt, as former Clemson head coach Rick Barnes can attest — that certainly puts the aggressive, chiseled forward in the conversation of the most hated Dukies.
Gerald Henderson – We would let North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough explain this one, but the NBA washout may be too busy shuffling his feet somewhere while simultaneously lowering his shoulder, nursing a bloody nose, and admirably trying to write an AFAM paper on his own.
Nolan Smith – One of three top weapons for the 2009-10 national champs, Nolan Smith (2007-11) wasn’t the same magnet for enmity as the other two (both are in the top 10 here). But ever since, he’s risen to director of basketball operations at Duke and was largely responsible for the launch and growth of the #TheBrotherhood campaign, a hashtag that makes haters’ blood boil.
Zion Williamson – Speaking of #TheBrotherhood, by shockingly pledging allegiance to it, Zion Williamson (2018-19) enraged gobs of college hoops fanatics. Then they constantly had to watch — because ESPN refused to show much else — as the 6-foot-6, 285-pound forward soared inside and outside of Cameron Indoor Stadium, stealing air time from guys on their favorite teams.
OK, time to look at the 10 faces who make Duke-hating trolls’ eyes bleed the most…