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?)