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November 17, 2005

Frank Deford, usually an exceptionally talented and insightful writer, tries to explain why lots of people hate--absolutely hate--the Duke men's basketball team, and he fails utterly.

My theory? Three parts.

1. Many people enjoy hating other people who are intelligent or rich or successful. At Duke there are a lot of kids who are all three.

2. Dickie V. Who loves Duke. That he loves almost everything and everyone connected to college basketball doesn't matter. If you don't like Dickie V.--and he's hard to take in large doses; "the dose makes the poison"--you'll get tired of listening to him praise Coach K.

3. Christian Laettner. Yes, he was perfect from the field and hit a dazzling shot to win the Greatest College Basketball Game Ever. But he stepped on a Kentucky player lying on the floor. Apparently deliberately. With a smile on his face.

I haven't made a formal study, but I bet you can trace a lot of Duke hatred to that game.

(On a different issue: I heard Frank Deford read this column--word for word--on NPR. Does he do that gratis or does NPR pay him? If the latter, how sweet a deal is that?)


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Both wrong. You are missing the obvious, probably because you have limited personal experience with the "Duke Fan", who is invariably and peristently insufferable in a Kerryesque way. As a fan of another ACC team who has a modestly vindictive streak, I was please some time ago to have a "Duke fan" reporting to me on the job and thoroughly dependent on me for his livilihood. This was the only time I witnessed moderation of Duke Fan behavior.

jim holzknecht

i am a DUKE fanatic and a kentucky hater. ironically i am from kentucky


I never really liked Duke. I think it is because I grew up in Kansas and we felt an East Coast snobbery in the press. If you weren't an East Coast team, you weren't any good and Duke epitomized East Coast basketball.

Therefore, I've always disliked Duke but I don't think I ever hated them. Christian Laettner is a huge part of my dislike though. I remember watching that game and cheering that Duke was going to lose. Then that smug prick makes that lucky shot. I don't remember him stepping on a player, but I wouldn't put it past him.

Always liked Coach K though. I've always thought he is a good coach and respect what he has done there. Interesting dichotomy, but I like Coach K and dislike Duke.


Martin is correct. A more insufferably arrogant jerk than the "Cameron Crazy" you will not find.


Sir, I respect Coach K, and if they are not playing UK
then I cheer for them,Yet, I don't understand why Laettner hasn't been
hit by a bus yet!, We all Know that UK is Gods' choosen Team

Rob Fay

Laettner would be my reason, along with the Duke fans. I am a HUGE UConn fan, and they have their own history with Duke.

Back in 1990, before his Kentucky buzzer-beater, Laettner provided a similar conclusion to UConn's season:

For Duke haters ut there, you might like this retribution against Laettner the following season:

George Connolly

The key to understanding hatred is envy.

Duke '88

Yiddish Steel

I don't like Duke. But(BIG BUT!)... The students (The Cameron Crazies) always come equipped with the best, most high-brow smack for their opponent. It takes more than just a check and a pulse to go to school there (cough * USC * cough). You actually have to have some grades to make it to the student body. I can respect that. Until recently (Elton Brand - 2000), no player left the team/program early for the NBA. Coach K still keeps the discipline bar at an extraordinary height; he doesn't stand for any bullshit on or off the court from his players. You can pick and choose which players, present or past to hate (i.e. Christine Laettner), but, overall, Duke University and Duke Basketball have earned my respect, even though I don't like Duke.


They are hyped by the press and until recently, they stink in the pros. I like DUke, but even the refs give them preferential treatment.

Steven Sheets

I'd go with the insufferable Duke fan to sour their basketball team for me. Having studied and worked at Duke I can't say I have anything against the school or the students but I enjoy seeing NCSU or UNC beat Duke anyday.

Mike Shearer

I think your three reasons hit it on the head. I know that I fall under #3. Jamal Mashburn fouls out because of a ticky-tack foul, and Laettner doesn't get anything. Typical. As far as Deford's column, I don't even know if that made sense. "How, and why, Duke became a hated school"--uh, Frank buddy? You do not answer either how or why.

The other reason I hate Duke? Kwreadsastasdsdfsaddfski. The guy whines. And whines. And whines. He belittles refs, and is certainly no symbol of "leadership" when he's coaching the game. Unless leadership is defined by swearing and threatening officials 10,000 times in a 40-minute time period. It has been proven (by the NO Times-Picayune) that he helped pay off Duhon's mother's house and got her a job with a Dook booster that she was *clearly* under-qualified for. He has players that receive money, etc etc etc. Yet they NEVER get investigated by the NCAA. Because they are the darlings of the NCAA. I think at this point, K would have to gun down a ref to get any kind of notice from the NCAA.

I don't know, there are so many reasons, this could go on forever.

T. Ramer

the only guy i see that "whines", "and whines", "and whines" is mike shearer.

gray wolf

Everybody doesn't hate Duke. Just because the Dookies are insuferable snobs, doesnt't mean that you should hate them. After all, the Dookies are only second rate at being insufferable snobs (they guys in baby blue come in first). I know many who will cheer on the Dookies and never attended the school. I'm sure there will be some Dook cheering this weekend and a couple of times between January and March hoards of non-Duke fans.


Let's see: The kids graduate. Coach K gets 110% from his players (witness last year) The academic standards are high and are not compromised. The students in the stands are crazy and witty. The program is CLEAN.
Yeah, but wait a minute, Laettner sucks and Coach K grinds on the refs. Yeah you're right, DUKE SUCKS!
OBTW: Yiddish Steel, you sound like a Jim Rome Clone. Maybe you think that's KOOL?
Newsflash: You sound like an idiot.

tom scott

I am a huge college basketball fan. Having lived in Alaska for 27 years I mostly follow west coast teams. Because of the Great Alaska Shoot Out I have become supporters of other teams. Most notably, the Louisville Cardinals under Denny Crum. I recall an incident that made a lasting impression on me. Rodney McCray was whistled for a foul and the crowd went wild booing the ref. Rodney walked over to the ref, placed a hand on him, and the crowd immediately calmed down. Seems like Denny always had class acts. Whether he recruited them or developed them I don't know but it has always made Louisville one of my favorites.
Back to the west coast. I've followed the West Coast Conference for many years because they gave Alaska kids a chance. For instance, last year Santa Clara beat North Carolina with two guards from Alaska. Kyle Baily (Fairbanks) had 20 points and guard Doron Perkins (Anchorage) had 11 points and 9 rebounds. But it was coach K and Duke that really gave Alaska kids a chance when he recruited Trajan Langdon and Carlos Boozer. This has guaranteed that other Alaska high school players will get a second look from the basketball powerhouses. I'm looking forward to Mario Chalmers freshman year an unranked (?) Kansas. So thanks coach K for expanding the opportunities of some previously overlooked high school kids.
I've moved to Washington in the last year. My son graduated from Gonzaga and now I am a 2 1/2 hour drive from Spokane. Go Zag's.

John Thacker

"A more insufferably arrogant jerk than the "Cameron Crazy" you will not find."

Well, the Arizona State fans who chanted "P-L-O, P-L-O!" at Steve Kerr (whose father, president of American University in Beirut) was killed by the PLO easily qualify. As do the real oddball Duke-haters who like to insist on things like, e.g., Laettner and his best friend/roommate/fellow player Brian Davis must be gay lovers. (Apparently partially because a white guy and a black guy just don't become such good friends. I swear I've heard this one a lot.)

Laettner was a jerk. The "stomping" incident is massively overblown, though, and looks much worse in slow motion than it did in real life. He was stumbling backwards after scoring a goal, and a Kentucky player was already on the ground underneath the basket. While stumbling backwards, he looked down and saw the Kentucky player. He did put his foot on the Kentucky player, not going to the effort of jerking his foot away that would have been necessary to avoid it. In fairness, it's doubtful that he could have avoided having his foot landing on the UK player without tripping and falling over the same player. But, he could have tried more. People constantly claim that "Laettner didn't get anything" as a result of that incident. Not true. Check the boxscore-- he got a technical foul. (At the time, technical fouls did not count against your limit of 5 personal fouls for the game, though two technicals would result in ejection. If that rule had been in place then, yes, he would have fouled out.) He was personally a jerk, though, as I'll admit. He had a habit of making lots of those "lucky" shots, however.

I have always noted that Duke's white players tend to be much more hated than the black players. There are individual reasons for some of them, but I imagine also that they more fit a stereotype about Duke students. (At the same time, people also claim that those players are overly hyped because they are white.)

"You have limited personal experience with the "Duke Fan", who is invariably and peristently insufferable in a Kerryesque way. "

Strange. As a Duke fan from Durham (who attended the college), that was always my experience with Carolina fans growing up. No surprise, I suppose; kids can be cruel, among other things. Lindy Krzyzewski went to middle school with my older brother; once in middle school a teacher who was a UNC fan wrote a mocking comment on her homework about Duke having lost to UNC that week. It's always especially amusing to see things like "Kerryesque" thrown around by Duke haters, since after all Coach K is a noted Republican.

In any case, Coach K may swear a lot, but he's never been tossed out of a game in the Final Four, unlike some HOF coaches. ;)


I am a Univ of MD alumni and a big Terps fan. When my son decided to go to Duke and worked hard enough and was fortunate enough to be accepted (and take out student and parent loans), we wondered if we'd be able to support the basketball team even a little. But then I remembered Grant Hill, one of my favorite all time players! And from what I hear the students are not as rabid as their reputation - Duke students come from all over the US and the world and are basically accepting of each other. They do all seem to come together to have fun at basketball games though! (Terps still #1 for me)

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