In an effort to counter all of the unwarranted and patently biased hatred spewed from these pages toward Duke University’s basketball program recently, I have taken it upon myself to be the lone voice of reason.
I like Duke.
Honestly, I’ve liked Duke for a very long time.
I grew up in Kansas and have been a Jayhawk fan for as long as I can remember. But, when I was 15 and saw the Blue Devils dismiss my beloved Jayhawks in the National Championship game…a new-found respect forced its way into my psyche whether I wanted it to or not. I watched in awe as Christian Laettner and company handed Roy Williams’ scrappy team yet another second-best finish.
It felt funny to me. But, even at a young age, I couldn’t deny the fact that I knew I was watching greatness unfold before me.
That ’91 Duke team was the beginning of a wild and iconic ride for all of college basketball. Of course, they went on to win it all again in ’92. And that was just the beginning. In the two decades since, Duke has shown us all what it means to be truly great.
Since, the early ’90′s, Duke has blessed us all with wave after wave of players with, not only, great talent, but also exceptional character. Of course, there have been some less-than-perfect examples from time to time, but overall, name one program that has exuded such class, as consistently, as the Duke Blue Devils. You can’t. Any program in the country would kill to have the type of role-models Duke has had.
But, of course, this is a sports blog and we are not here to talk about character and class. We’re here to talk about the game. And, there is no better representation of all the great things about today’s game than Duke. Coach Krzyzewski knows how to get the best out of his players and we get to benefit from that. Duke teams are consistently among the top squads year in and year out. They play an exciting style that appeals to all ages and demographics. There, quite simply, is nothing better than watching Duke play it’s “A” game in front of 9,000 adoring fans.
And speaking of the fans, one cannot talk about the phenomenon of Duke basketball without mentioning the Cameron Crazies. There is no more dedicated, knowledgeable or committed fan base in all of college basketball. In fact, I would argue that they rank right up there with the likes of Yankees, Patriots and Eagles fans as some of the best in all of sports. Whether they are taunting opposing players or camping out in a tent in “Krzyzewskiville,” NO fans come close to being as loyal and attached to the University itself as the Dukies. Sure, they get a bad rap from time to time, but with popularity comes criticism. The media outlets (like this one) would love nothing more than to see Duke fail.
But, we, the fans, know better. College basketball needs Duke.
Fortunately for us, they’re going to be around for a long, long time.