Breaking News Alert . . . . It’s official. ESPN just updated their relationship status on Facebook. I’m sorry to be the one to break the hearts of the rest of college basketball, but ESPN is currently in a relationship with Duke Basketball and Mike Krzyzewski. There’s no more need for secret, midnight rendezvous or hotel rooms registered under assumed names, you’re not fooling anyone anymore. I’m actually starting to worry about the guys over at the Entertainment Sports Programming Network. Their current love affair with Duke appears to be affecting their judgment, and quite frankly their work is suffering. Apparently, Mike Patrick, Dick Vitale and company are so blinded by love that they have resorted to consulting Wikipedia for their research and reporting false statistics that glorify Coack K and the rest of the Blue Devils.
I think I’ve mentioned before that when it is a competitive contest, I like watching Duke Basketball because I love to see them lose. One day I would like to test my serotonin levels after a Duke loss. I’m pretty sure they would be off the charts. So I was watching Thursday night when the Virginia Cavaliers went into Cameron to take on the 6th ranked Duke Blue Devils. With Vitale and Mike Patrick commentating, I knew it was going to be a Coach K love fest. Though, I will have to admit that even Mike Patrick couldn’t help poking fun at Mason Plumlee’s nightmarish free-throw shooting. Anyhow, I’ve heard some crazy things come out of Dick Vitale’s mouth but none more shocking than when he announced on national television that Duke led college basketball with 17 former players in the NBA.
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Immediately, my BS detectors went hay-wire. Given that Thursday night’s game was a tight one with plenty of fodder for in-game commentary, Vitale provided this stat for no other reason than to try and disprove one of the biggest criticisms of Coach K which is his players can’t hack it in the NBA. Vitale who is no stranger to Twitter even TWEETED the interesting “fact” during the game:
NBA season started & Duke 17 – UCLA 15 – UK 15. most players in NBA
The only problem is this is simply not true. There are currently 15 former Duke players on NBA rosters tying them with UCLA and UK (though I wouldn’t hold my breath on Gerald Henderson. I would say his release status with the Charlotte Bobcats is day to day). So where is ESPN getting their stats these days? Upon a cursory analysis, I determined it must be from Wikipedia.org. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the site, Wikipedia is an open and free encyclopedia on the web that anyone can edit. Moderators do their best to control the website and prevent fallacious statements and errors but they’re not always on their toes such as in this case. I’ll admit I have used the site on occasion for statistics and information, but I’m not doing research for ESPN.
Mr. Vitale most likely made the same mistake as Wikipedia by including both Kyle Singler and Lance Thomas among current NBA players. While it is true that Singler was drafted by the Detroit Pistons, he has yet to put on a NBA uniform. During the lockout, he played in Spain where he was his team’s leading scorer. Apparently Singler likes being the big fish in a small pond because he elected to stay with Real Madrid instead of trying to play with the Pistons. Lance Thomas was also included as 1 of the 17 former Dukies in the NBA. Well Thomas was a member of the New Orleans Hornets until December 31, 2011 when he was released by the team.
After discovering the truth of the matter, I then decided to analyze the QUALITY of Duke players in the NBA. I’ve always preferred quality over quantity. The fact is Duke players are enjoying more success than usual on the next level, nowhere near the success UNC players have enjoyed over the years, but they are doing very well for Duke standards. Grant Hill, the six-time All Star and Duke’s best NBA player ever, is still clunking around as he approaches 40 years old. It seems the best thing a Dukie can hope for is to be drafted by the Chicago Bulls where Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Elton Brand have enjoyed moderate success. However, of the 15 former Duke players ACTUALLY playing in the NBA, only four are major contributors for their respective teams, the aforementioned Deng, Brand and Boozer and Shane Battier. However, you can’t really credit Coach Mike Krzyzewski with the success of these four as Battier is the only one who actually stayed at Duke all four years.
If you want to know just how well Coach K prepares players for the NBA just google three of his best collegiate players ever, Danny Ferry, Christian Laettner and Jayson Williams. The words “worst” and “draft flop” will appear quite often. So ESPN, it’s time you get your facts straight. Despite the numbers, Duke players are still mediocre at best in the NBA, and anyone who says differently is just trying to pimp out their girlfriend.
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