No. 1 Duke basketball player the rivals loved to hate the most: Christian Laettner
1992 NBA Draft: Round 1, Pick 3
Minnesota Timberwolves, 1992–1996
Atlanta Hawks, 1996–1998
Detroit Pistons, 1999–2000
Dallas Mavericks, 2000–2001
Washington Wizards, 2001–2004
Miami Heat, 2004–2005
As the lone college player on the famed 1992 USA basketball Olympics squad, affectionately known to most as the “Dream Team,” Christian Laettner was seen as the odd man out on perhaps the most talented roster ever assembled. Where Laettner really garnered hate, though, was his playing career in Durham — so much so that an ESPN 30 for 30 titled “I Hate Christian Laettner” was released in 2015.
The moment that made Laettner so hated was when, during the 1992 NCAA tournament East Regional Final, the Buffalo native stomped on the chest of Kentucky’s Aminu Timberlake before hitting the game-winning basket — known to the college basketball world as “The Shot” — to advance to the Final Four. That his Blue Devils eventually cut down the nets left many feeling like karma hit the snooze button when it was supposed to go after Laettner.
Laettner only made one NBA All-Star game, so his Naismith Hall of Fame induction had more to do with his presence on the “Dream Team,” but the near-seven-footer will always be seen as the reason Duke became a college hoops villain long before the likes of Battier, Redick, and Allen became stars,