Editors Note: As part of our UNC vs Duke game day mini tradition here at Keeping It Heel. We share with you the greatest Anti-Duke, Dook hate column ever written. If you ever run in an argument with a Duke fan or just feel the need to spread some Dook Hate the Anti-Duke Manifesto will remain tucked away here at Keeping It Heel on this page for such occasions.
“The Anti-Duke Manifesto” was written by Brian Allen, a graduate of both UNC and Duke Law. He has some very interesting points to make about Duke and why people hate the basketball program so very much, it’s a very long read but one that has become the Duke Hater’s bible. Now that all the chapters have been published I thought it was only appropriate to publish the whole manifesto the day we go to battle with the scum known as Duke.
WHY WE HATE DUKE – A Comprehensive Analysis
Foreword to the Second Edition
I initially drafted this document for two related reasons: (1) as a candid response to the multitude of persons who constantly ask the question, ‘Why do people hate Duke so much?’ and (2) as a contribution to an undergraduate alumni group that is forever unified in its Duke enmity. It seemed the least I could do for my brethren, particularly the group leader who does such excellent work keeping us all united and updated in our anti-Duke sentiments via email. I fully expected the initial draft to be shared with the 200+ members of the alumni group. I did not anticipate that it would from there be posted all over the Internet on various sports message boards. National sports boards, such as ESPN’s Sportsnation, kicked this around pretty thoroughly with over a hundred reader comments. It was a natural post for TruthAboutDuke.com and Duke-Sucks.com. From there, individual school boards posted it, with Maryland’s sparking another lengthy thread of commentary and cleverly dubbing the essay the ‘Anti-Duke Manifesto.’ I have seen it on other school athletic sites, including UVA’s, Kentucky’s, Virginia Tech’s, NC State’s, UCLA’s, and several others. It was recently referenced in the New York Times in a lengthy article on Coach K.
One of my former co-workers, a UK grad, suggested I update the essay on an annual basis since there is always more discussion to be added. Given the circulation that it seems to be getting, I will, from time to time, update this work as appropriate, (but no guarantees as to annually).
The comments I read from the original edition have been generally positive and appreciate. I have also reviewed a number of comments from Duke defenders, who were surprisingly limited in the substance of their rebuttals. The chief reader retorts/criticisms, from both supporters and detractors of the original piece, have been the following:
1. That Duke is simply hated because its basketball program is so successful, much like Major League Baseball’s Yankees;
2. That the examples I provide are too UNC and/or ACC oriented;
3. That the composition is too long and wordy; and
4. That I, the humble author, need to ‘get a life.’
Taking these in order, I respond as follows:
Many a Duke fan attempts to dismiss the article outright by simply labeling it the product of jealousy. SI writer Phil Taylor exemplifies this mindless approach with his myopic article entitled, ‘Blue With Envy.’ Washington Post writer Tony Kornheiser recently echoed this shallow drivel in a column that specifically compared the hatred to that held for the Yankees. I suppose this is an easy enough way to avoid addressing the countless examples, statistics, and decades of hard historical evidence that support the criticisms outlined. But it is a little too simple. Perennial success, standing alone, does not breed hatred. Does anyone hate Lance Armstrong? Or Tiger Woods? Or Serena Williams?
Thinking back over my lifetime, there have been, and continue to be, other sports programs that are equal if not superior to Duke (and the Yankees) in their levels of long-term success – UNC basketball, UCLA’s Wooden-era basketball, Kentucky basketball, the Lakers of the late 70s and 80s, the NBA Celtics of the 60s and 80s, the Michael Jordan Bulls teams, and many more.
With the exception of the Yankees, none of these teams ever came close to engendering the level of pure, unadulterated hate that Duke commands. As for the Yankees, I personally do not hate them, though I do routinely root against them in the playoffs. I simply cannot bring myself to hate Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, et al. (Granted, if they begin to slap the field while on defense and jump in opposing base runners’ paths with impunity, I probably will.) The reason I root against them, and the reason so many people do hate the Yankees’ franchise, is because it simply buys whatever talent it desires. Always has. From Babe Ruth, to Reggie Jackson, to Dave Winfield, to Alex Rodriguez and Randy Johnson, when Yankee ownership sees a player it needs, it simply buys him.
I don’t think this is the reason why we hate Duke, (although after Corey Maggette I cannot eliminate this possibility). No, the reason we hate Duke goes far deeper. If the Duke defenders who offer this defense would simply read the pages that follow, they would easily see the fallacy of this reasoning.
Criticism no. 2 is well taken. Schools from across the nation have classic examples to share. I owe Kentucky a particular apology for overlooking the obvious – Laettner’s pass for stomping the chest of an opposing Wildcat. I attempt to correct that deficiency by providing a more diverse and cross-representative sampling of examples in this revised edition. But the reader must understand that while many schools experience the misfortune of dealing with this program, we in the ACC must stomach Duke year in and year out. Consequently, there will be more examples provided from ACC play.
I find the third criticism annoying. As the title forewarns, this writing is intended to be a comprehensive analysis of the reasons why we hate Duke. That such an inexhaustible subject can be covered in less than a multi-volume treatise is, to me, a small wonder. As an attorney and an historian, I tend to support my arguments thoroughly. It is the reason why no Duke supporter has been able to formulate an intelligent rebuttal to any of the points made – with the possible exception of the free throw disparities.
At any rate, fairness dictates that I leave no stone unturned in an endeavor as important as explaining the basis for Duke animus. Bear in mind, there is no requirement that it be read at once. Hopefully the chapter breaks will help in this regard.
As for those who complain that the piece contains too many big words and long sentences, I apologize. However, we must keep in mind that many a Duke student reads this essay. For a student body that chants, ‘We beg to differ,’ at game referees, and that memorizes the definitions of words such as ‘juxtapose’ and ‘ignominious’ in order to gain admission to the place, it is only fair that we communicate in a way they can appreciate. With that said, I will attempt to simplify things a bit.
As for criticism no. 4, I suppose the point is valid to a degree. It is sad that I devote free time to this mission. At the same time, however, it is far easier than a non-Duke hater would believe. Somehow the words simply flow, the only task being to organize the infinite points. And, in the end, I can think of no cause more important than debunking the myths of this loathsome school.
With that said, I present below, the second edition:
Mike Krzyzewski and his players don’t understand the antipathy. They know it’s out there, but they truly don’t know why. Fans of all schools love to hate Duke, with growing enthusiasm it seems, and the trend is baffling the great coach to no end.
As a lifelong basketball fan, and as a graduate of both the University of North Carolina and the Duke University School of Law, I feel infinitely qualified to eliminate the confusion. Although many writers, in piecemeal fashion, occasionally comment on isolated reasons behind the ABD (‘anybody but Duke’) movement, I am aware of no comprehensive piece that discusses all the interrelated reasons why this basketball program is loathed so intensely by so many. I will attempt to do so herein.
–Chapter One –
The Duke Persona
First is the persona shared by the coach, his team, and the supporting student body. A rarely seen blend of obscene arrogance and shameless hypocrisy is the cornerstone of Duke basketball. Whether it is Christian Laettner wagging his tongue after a lay-up, Brian Davis tauntingly skipping across the floor after a break away dunk, or Chris Duhon matter-of-factly stating that all other ACC teams simply compete for second place in the annual conference tournament, (ironically said before Maryland defeated Duke for the 2004 title), the rank conceit and condescension are insufferable.
As for the equally unrelenting hypocrisy, examples abound year after year. In every close game, for instance, Coach K spews profanities at game officials for the extremely rare call against his team, while, at the same time, starring in a television commercial promoting the importance of good sportsmanship. Admittedly, his boorish behavior gets results, as every ACC official reacts to each outburst by calling an offensive foul against his opponent at the next possible opportunity.
Nevertheless, Krzyzewski, unabashed and blind to his hypocrisy, stated during the 2004 ACC tournament that because nothing is gained from working the officials, it is something he does not do.
The language this coach spouts is truly appalling, even by competitive sports standards, yet the media anointed him to sainthood status long ago. Gary Williams shouts game profanities with similar regularity and is understandably criticized by the media for doing so. Bobby Knight is similarly blasted for his well-publicized misconduct. And yet Coach K – a Knight disciple – not only receives a free pass but is worshiped as the great gentleman – ‘an officer and a gentleman’ as one commentator said during a game break last year. MSNBC sports writer Mike Ventre called him, ‘the closest thing we have to royalty in college basketball.’ Somehow the media equates the man with class, when, in reality, he is two letters removed from the word.
Duke students and fans similarly experience difficulty with consistency. As all basketball fans know, the student body is legendary for decades of orchestrated efforts to humiliate opposing players. They, for example, threw snack cakes at Dennis Scott because he once had a weight problem; they dressed as Frankenstein in an Eric Montross replica jersey; they named an ‘All Acne Team’ of opposing players and further named Mike O’Koren the Oxy 10 poster boy; record albums were thrown at an N.C. State player accused of stealing a stereo; pizza boxes were hurled at another Wolfpacker accused of robbing a delivery man; Maryland forward Herman Veal was showered with condoms and women’s panties after being accused of sexual misconduct, (a charge of which he was exonerated – precisely like Shelden Williams); Steve Francis received a serenade of ‘SAT’ because of academic struggles. The list goes on and on. All of these coordinated stunts were performed on regional, often national, television – the better to publicize the ‘creative genius’ of the Duke student body.
In the face of this churlish history, J.J. Redick, during the 2003-04 season, complained of opposing fans’ insensitivity towards Duke players. ‘Just from this year,’ he whined, ‘there have been so many incidents from other team’s fans, saying rude and crude remarks to us.’ Which is the more amazing: that Redick would be surprised or troubled by opposing fans’ comments or that he would show the gall to complain of the perceived unfairness publicly? Last season, Duke fans flooded North Carolina newspapers with letters expressing outrage that UNC fans affirmatively cheered for Mississippi State during its second round NCAA regional match-up with Duke in Charlotte. To these clueless prima donnas, Carolina fans ‘crossed the line’ by simply cheering for a neutral third-party school to defeat its hated rival.
Duke hypocrisy reached a record zenith only a few years earlier during Matt Doherty’s first year as UNC head coach. At Duke, Doherty concluded a closed team huddle, in a raucous environment where his team struggled to hear his words, with the statement, ‘Duke still has the ugliest cheerleaders in the ACC.’ Somehow word of this statement reached the media. The Duke students and alumni immediately exploded in outrage. How, they asked, could a coach utter such a callous remark? Surely such insensitivity could not be tolerated.
Unbelievable, but true. Somehow in the Duke mindset, a half-century of mocking the physical appearances of individual, teen-aged players, on national television is good-natured fun, while a coach’s private comment to his own players about a group of cheerleaders is grounds for persecution. Bringing its hypocrisy full-circle, the Duke student body, in its 2005 Maryland pre-game ‘cheer card,’ (yes, they actually print and circulate such a thing), encouraged the students to continue to spout cheers and jeers about how ugly they believe Steve Blake to have been – even though he had graduated and left the team the year before.
The biggest irony of this Duke tradition of insulting opposing players’ appearances is presented year after year by the student body itself. As each panning of the crowd consistently shows, the student body does not exactly comprise Britney Spears and Brad Pitt look-a-likes. There clearly is a compelling reason why so many of the students cover their faces with paint, masks, basketball nets, etc. Nevertheless, their personal taunts and jeers continue in a way that would make Joan Rivers proud.
Beyond the hypocrisy, it is difficult to select the word that best describes the Duke students who attend the school’s home games. Haughty, impudent, smug, egg-headed nerds – all capture elements, but none come close to painting the full descriptive picture. The Washington Post, roughly twenty years ago, coined a useful but dated phrase in labeling the students, ‘Yuppie Brats.’ Another article credited the students with ‘majoring in smart ass.’ Still, a full understanding of their detestable nature can be gathered only through experience, not description.
And yet the sports media, for reasons that baffle, glorify this same group. Led by Dick Vitale, who affectionately refers to the student section of Cameron Indoor Stadium as the ‘Cameron Crazies,’ sports telecasters and analysts regularly state that the Duke student body is what’s ‘great’ about college basketball. These same commentators credit the students for their creative and clever game rituals, and they seemingly cannot say enough times what a ‘classy’ program Duke is. It’s an insane commentary on students who, as opposing players are introduced, chant such creative phrases as, ‘Antawn sucks.’ Another Duke trademark is the united chant of ‘bullshit’ in response to any unfavorable official’s call. Before losing to UNC in 1989, the student body, referring to Carolina’s star center J.R. Reid, raised a sign that read, ‘J.R. Can’t Reid This.’ The same statement was chanted, even though Reid was actually a quite intelligent and scholastically accomplished student athlete.
This is the stuff of class?
Now back to the hypocrisy factor. Dean Smith was badly troubled by the latter incident, which he understandably construed as a racial slur. Because Coach Smith had also recruited two of Duke’s big men, Christian Laettner and Danny Ferry, he knew what these players scored on the SAT. In a press conference, he rebutted the crowd’s baseless innuendo by explaining that J.R. Reid and frontcourt mate Scott Williams accomplished a higher combined SAT score than did Laettner and Ferry, both white. Smith revealed no specific scores, nor did he provide any individual comparisons. In response, the same group that slanderously labeled Reid illiterate berated Smith for his audacity in disclosing the completely true, but purportedly ‘private,’ information of its players.
Still unconvinced? Consider the case of J.R. Reid’s frontcourt running mate, Scott Williams. By all accounts, a great person, Williams suffered the worst imaginable tragedy when he lost both his parents in a murder-suicide shooting. Several of the good-natured, creative Dukies responded at the next Duke-UNC game with clever shouts of ‘Orphan, Orphan!’ as Williams was introduced.
– Chapter Two –
Coach K: A Hypocrite’s Hypocrite
Why else is Duke despised? No essay on the subject is complete without extensive discussion of the coach. The man who models the haughty demeanor that his players so perfectly emulate is an egotist to no end. Although his name and mug are posted on anything and everything related to Duke, he maintains his own website at www.coachk.com. Its purpose? To promote K’s number one cause: himself. The site provides a menu that includes K-related news stories, his quotes, and, of course, loads of details about his recently published books.
Of course this is but the tip of the iceberg of Krzyzewski’s self-centered egotism. Consider the following classic examples.
The Lakers Saga
His egomania was best demonstrated during the summer of ‘04. Krzyzewski was approached by the Los Angeles Lakers and offered a coaching position. Admittedly, the story deserved news coverage in the sports world, but what followed was truly absurd. Coach K issued media statements on a daily basis to advise of his intent to continue with his deliberations. Local newscasts actually led with the story throughout the weeklong affair. At a time when American soldiers were dying daily and a presidential election was but weeks away, news outlets actually led one to believe that the latest in a series of K’s disingenuous flirtations with the NBA was front page news. In the end, Krzyzewski did what he has always done: chose to remain at his cherished college post, fully aware that he, like the overwhelming majority of his players, would enjoy zero success at the next level.
The egotism becomes clearer still when we realize that the Lakers actually offered the same coaching job to UNC head coach Roy Williams before approaching Krzyzewski. Most fans were surprised to learn this fact because Williams quietly, professionally, and promptly concluded the discussions. No day-by-day media releases. No news conferences. No demands for a new practice center from his current employer.
The best part of Coach K’s Lakers saga has been the aftermath. A master of illusion, Krzyzewski has actually painted his publicized deliberations as proof of his great loyalty to the university. To hear the man talk, one would think this was the only time that he has seriously contemplated leaving Duke. ‘It became apparent,’ K explained, ‘that this decision was somewhat easier to make because you have to follow your heart and lead with it, and Duke has always taken up my whole heart.’ It was an interesting statement coming from a man who flirted with three other NBA franchises during the previous decade. K spawned a similar media frenzy in 1990 as he entertained an offer from the Celtics. Four years later, he talked turkey with the Miami Heat. Also in 1994, he discussed a coaching position with the Portland Trailblazers – all in his usual public fashion. (Interestingly, 1994 is the same year during which Krzyzewski was ‘forced’ to take the season off because of his extreme ‘exhaustion.’) The simple fact is that – despite his claimed allegiance to Duke – K routinely bluffs his departure whenever he wishes to stroke his ego, pad his wallet, stymie criticism, or land a new practice facility.
And still the media has happily bought into this false take on the Lakers saga. New York Times writer Michael Sokolove, in his lovefest piece entitled ‘Follow Me,’ called K’s decision ’something extraordinary.’ The article proceeded to explain that Krzyzewski’s decision to turn down millions rendered him ‘even more worthy of admiration.’ Consider the man’s full history and decide which is the more accurate perception.
Leadership During Crisis: the 1994-95 season
A man’s true colors show during times of crisis. For K, it was the 1994-95 season. That was the year that Duke suffered through a 13-18 season. Knowing when to fold them, K sat out the majority of the season, citing an ailing back and extreme ‘exhaustion.’ (This mind you, from a man who writes the following in his book on leadership: ‘During critical periods, a leader is not allowed to feel sorry for himself, to be down, to be angry, or to be weak. Leaders must beat back these emotions.’) He delegated head coaching duties to assistant coach Pete Gaudet. Any standup guy would have accepted responsibility for the season that unfolded with his players, at his school, following his game plans. Classy Coach K, however, petitioned the NCAA to have the season’s win-loss record stricken from his career totals. It was another curious move for a guy who espouses the following philosophy: ‘A leader has to be positive about all things that happen to his team. Look at nothing in the past as failure.
Other seldom-publicized details about this incident bring Krzyzewski’s true nature into sharper focus. Coach Gaudet went back many years with Krzyzewski, all the way to K’s previous coaching days at Army. According to Sports Illustrated, Gaudet was the ‘restricted earnings’ coach at Duke when he was asked to assume the reigns during K’s extended vacation. Consequently, he was paid a little over $300.00 a week, which probably correlated to a minimum wage hourly rate. So, in the end, K continued to draw his six figure salary and seven figure endorsements, while sitting at home on his rear. (Funny how he did not feel the need to give Gaudet the head coach’s salary; just the accountability for the win-loss record.) He then returned to dump all over his long-time friend and assistant, while taking formal steps to ensure that the NCAA pinned all losses on his newly converted scapegoat. And exactly how does this jive with the following quoted philosophy, again taken from the great coach’s own website: ‘You have to work hard at staying in contact with your friends so that the relationships will continue and live on… Friendships, along with love, make life worth living.’
Truly, can anyone imagine Dean Smith having done this to his long-time assistant coach Bill Guthridge? Can anyone fathom Roy Williams taking this approach? Or Tubby Smith, Tom Izzo, Jim Calhoun, John Thompson, Bob Knight, Jim Boeheim — or any other college coach?
Sound bad enough? There’s more. Just review the timeline from that revealing season. First, realize that K did not pack it in until after the twelfth game. Apparently the pain and exhaustion were bearable as the team started out with a 9 – 2 record and a top ten national ranking. The early record was accomplished in usual Krzyzewski fashion, by trouncing various cupcakes, (e.g., mighty Brown University by 42, North Carolina A & T by 43, South Carolina State by 46, Northeastern by 23, George Washington by 30, and BU by 17). It was only when he tested the waters of the forthcoming conference schedule, with a home loss to Clemson, that our hero could no longer continue. Strange how the specter of a difficult conference schedule exacerbated that exhaustion and back pain.
But the best part to this story is how Mike passed his time during those medically essential days of rest and recuperation. As he closed his mind – and his record book – to his team’s nightmarish season, Coach K somehow mustered enough strength to entertain high school recruits – in his home no less – for future seasons. For example, he had Vince Carter over for a January visit, nine days after he advised his players of his need to sign off for health reasons. The punch line later came from Carter himself. Shortly after that visit, Carter was quoted in an SI article on Duke, (published well before Carter chose UNC over Duke by the way). ‘He was up and about,’ said Carter, ‘He didn’t seem like a guy who has had all these back problems.’
And if you think this was an isolated incident, think again. The man is a champion buck passer. When I attended the school during the 1989-92 time period, Duke squeaked by in a couple of regular season games, after which there was some question about the team’s leadership and direction. Always looking for a fall guy, Coach K, in a post-game press conference, actually turned on his own student body, who, he barked, had grown complacent in its support. ‘I think we need to understand what the hell is going on here at Duke University,’ was one of the quotes. This he said of the same students who camp out for weeks for the chance to support this team with their boorish displays. It has become a recurring Krzyzewski excuse, one that he resorted to even last year as his students remained as boisterous and obnoxious as ever in their game time antics. No doubt, there is plenty for which to criticize these students, but support of the team is not one. K’s tendency to turn on his fellow vermin is a testament to his amazingly self-centered, one-dimensional mindset. And let us not forget the man’s tendency to fault game officials for unfair calls – the same officials who regularly enable his team to make more free throws in a season than their opponents are allowed to attempt – more on that later.
Greed in countless forms
Then there is the man’s insatiable avarice. His greed surfaces in several forms. The man routinely allows his teams to humiliate undermanned teams with unnecessary three-point shooting in the final moments of blowouts. This year, for example, K let his team run it up against Seton Hall to the tune of 93 – 40. They drubbed Davidson by 29, Bucknell by 34. Against UNC-Greensboro, which is coached by a purported long-time friend of Krzyzewski’s, the final margin was 33. (In fairness, Krzyzewski did insert four seldom-used reserves for a generous total of two minutes each during that game.) Even during his worst season of 1994-95, Mike authorized 40+ point drubbings of Brown, North Carolina A & T, and South Carolina State before deciding to sit the conference schedule out. Putting aside the question of why mighty Duke feels the need to schedule such cakewalks, do classy coaches really deem it necessary to run the final margin up to these levels?
Then there is his endless quest for money. Duke refuses to disclose his annual salary, but this much we know: according to 2003 tax documents, Duke paid him $875,000.00 for his six months of work. The number increased significantly, as we know that Duke made ‘modifications’ to his contract to compete with the Lakers’ offer of eight million dollars a year. Again Duke refused to divulge details, but, according to the New York Times, he now lands $1.5 million from coaching alone. (Yes, apparently it took a near doubling of his salary to keep K at the school that has always been no. 1 in his heart.) His Nike shoe contract dwarfs his salary with a last reported sum of $6.6 million. He makes thirty speaking engagements each year. Handled through the Washington Speakers Bureau, each appearance is billed at a cost of $50,000.00. At least one of his published books was a best seller, which presumably produced another seven figures in royalty income.
Granted, these earnings are a product of his success, which, standing alone, should not spark resentment. But what is offensive is the unethical television advertisements that he adds to the mix. During the 2004-05 season alone, we saw Krzyzewski on multiple advertisements: driving a car, suddenly appearing to celebrate with the victors of a neighborhood game, and, of course, touting his virtuous coaching philosophy for American Express. The latter ad campaign clearly doubled as a recruiting tool for Coach K, as he explained how he wishes to see his players develop into well-rounded human beings fully equipped for life.
Finally, the man’s love of money brings us back to the hypocrisy issue. Witness the following Coach K quote: ‘I’ve never made a decision based on what will get me the most money.’ Oh really? Then one must wonder why he left his dream coaching job at his alma mater, West Point, in order to come to Duke in the first place. And exactly why does K star in multiple television commercials if not for the money and if not to gain unfair recruiting advantages? And why, if his love for teaching is so genuine, must the man charge $50,000.00 for a single speaking engagement?
– Chapter Three –
The general public’s unawareness of the above is perpetuated by the sports media’s irrational love for Duke basketball. For reasons unimaginable, sportscasters, commentators, and writers constantly turn blind eyes to the endless reasons to despise the place, all while feeding the myth that Coach K and his Cameron Crazies are embodiments of class. ‘Whats not to like? Theres nothing to criticize,’ is an illustrative quote from Dick Vitale.
The media has become so jaded in its bias that it has taken to viewing Duke players as the victims of unfair and undeserved hostility. Dick Vitale, during Dukes senior night loss to UNC, proclaimed how JJ Redick is the most ‘abused’ player he has ever seen in 27 years of covering college basketball. He went on to lament the verbal abuse and profanity, which, he added, ’should be a no-no in college arenas.’ Again, this from the man who idolizes the Cameron Crazies.
The best example was aired by ESPN immediately after Duke’s second loss to Maryland last season. The network devoted a lengthy segment to the subject of how low opposing fans go to get inside poor JJ Redick’s head. The segment started by showing JJ shooting alone in a quite and dark gym that he considers his sacred home, the absurd implication being that Duke offers a calm and reverent venue. Next, game clips of rival fans, mostly from Maryland, were shown shouting at Redick. From there, JJ himself, in a sickeningly sanctimonious tone of voice, bemoans the startling comments that he has heard from opposing school’s students and fans. Midway through the piece, Chris Collins, of all people, offers his opinions as to what is and is not acceptable from a sportsmanship standpoint. The segment ends with JJ reading poetry and scripture, which he explains, help him through his tribulations. All of this mind you, from a player whose supporting student body annually raises the bar for the most despicable courtside conduct in the country. The entire segment was preposterous, yet, at no point, did ESPN even hint at the possible irony? Well, JJ, to your inspirational book of poetry, please allow me to contribute the following gems, which hopefully will further assist you in your life’s toils:
People who live in glass houses, should not throw stones.
You reap what you sow.
What goes around comes around.
Whats good for the goose is good for the gander.
As with its misguided adulation of the Duke student body and players, the media goes to absurd extremes to worship Krzyzewski as the ultimate role model. A classic case in point came in the 2001 season. Duke, in a home game against Georgia Tech, ran its lead to 44 with under a minute to play, due largely to three point shooting that continued long after the point of gratuitous humiliation. Finally, as the clock went under thirty seconds, Duke graciously held the ball for its final possession. Mike Patrick, in his annoyingly dogmatic tone of voice, shouted, ‘Doesn’t that just show what a classy guy Mike Krzyzewski is? He doesn’t want to embarrass anybody.’ It was as if the difference between a 44 and 46 point nationally televised drubbing was somehow a magnanimous show of sportsmanship.
Fox Sports Net recently did its best to promote the Krzyzewski media myth. In its Beyond the Glory series, the network airs periodic one hour biographies on various historical sports figures. As its name suggests, the program typically focuses on the good and the bad of the sports figure at issue. The intent is to reveal the whole person, as opposed to just the already known athletic accomplishments. Drug addiction, gambling, and spousal abuse are examples of the commonly exposed dark themes.
Two years ago, Coach K was the subject. Not once did the program even hint at the possibility of the man having anything short of a model citizen profile. Ignoring the dirty laundry discussed in this writing alone, the entire piece suggested that K was a miracle worker who moved to lowly Durham, North Carolina in order to resurrect a struggling basketball program the same program that played in the national championship game two seasons before his arrival. He was never confronted about his poor sportsmanship, his oft-criticized hypocrisy, the underhanded manner in which he lures players to his school by securing jobs for parents, his controversial television ads, or his gutless buck passing. The only criticism was one from K himself. He faulted himself for underestimating how ‘popular’ he would become after winning his first two national titles. He explained how he attempted to meet all of the endless demands for public appearances, which triggered the exhaustion that forced him to quit the 1994-95 season just as the teams season started its way down the toilet. That Ks only admitted fault from that season was underestimating his perceived popularity says it all.
It is bad enough that the sports media fails to research the mans background sufficiently to expose these easily discoverable facts. But, thanks to the New York Times, we now know that ignorance and sloppy journalism is not the root cause of the medias misplaced adoration. In his ‘Follow Me’ article, Times writer Michael Sokolove rambled on about the leadership virtues of Coach K, actually following select chapters from Ks book in the process. On the first page of the article, Sokolove cited the initial version of this writing as an example of the ‘vitriol’ thrown at Coach K. Sokolove presumably read the paper, as he briefly discussed two scattered points and actually ran a word count on it. Nevertheless, he quickly dismissed the decades of factual evidence and undeniable statistics as the stuff of envy. ‘What the manifesto demonstrates, mainly,’ writes Sokolove, ‘is how satisfying it can be to hate success and, even more so, to hate success linked to virtue.’ Sokolove made no attempt to refute any of the points made, other than to state that it ’seems far-fetched’ to note that much of Dukes success is due to its astounding free throw advantages.
I expect Duke fans to ignore the countless examples that I have cited, but not supposedly objective sportswriters. It is as if the national media is absolutely incapable of objectively considering a well-supported, detailed enumeration of what makes the man so loathsome. Instead these blithely ignorant journalists feed on one anothers misperceptions. It all culminates with absurdities such as Mike Ventres description of Coach K as, ‘the closest thing we have to royalty in college basketball.’
The extent to which the media has become blind in its love for the program as a whole is similarly astounding. Remember a few seasons ago when Duke came back from ten points down to Maryland in the final minute of play? A great comeback, no doubt, but Mike Patrick once again lost all grips on reality by emphatically stating how it was the most amazing thing he had ever seen.
Apparently, Mike missed it when Carolina came back from eight points down in seventeen seconds, with no three-point shot available – against Duke, by the way. Mike also forgot about Duke blowing a 40-19 halftime lead against UVA during the 1994-95 season for the biggest ACC choke in five years.
To this day, we are still afflicted with video clips of Christian Laettner’s buzzer beating shot against Kentucky in the 1992 regional finals. Undoubtedly, it will remain firmly etched in the middle of CBS’s road to the final four for perpetuity. And why? A dramatic shot? Sure. But how many more spectacular – and far more significant – tournament shots have there been? How about a freshman named Jordan hitting the game winner in the 1982 National Championship game? N.C. State’s Lorenzo Charles dunking home the championship winner the very next year in one of the great Cinderella stories? Padgetts dramatic title game winner for Kentucky; Keith Smarts for Indiana? Its also easy to forget that UConn, two years before Laettner hit his shot, pulled off a far more improbable win when Tate George received a true length of the court pass and beat Clemson at the buzzer. Laettner’s shot was good, but please, for the love of Pete, spare us further viewing of this well-worn piece of film.
And how many times have you heard the media use this curious phrase when heralding Duke and Coach K: ‘all of those national championships.’ Normally, when a phrase begins with the words, ‘all of those,’ it refers to a large multitude. There is only one college hoops program deserving credit for, ‘all of those national championships,’ and it is UCLA. It is just one example of the bogus elitism that the media has bestowed upon Duke more on that later.
Mike P and Dickie V
Certain sportscasters become blubbering idiots as they rant and rave over the perceived virtues of Duke. Dick Vitale, for example, during the first Maryland-Duke game of 2006, shouted that Duke is ‘the Uno Number One program’ and Coach K ‘the Uno Number One Coach.’ J.J. Redick struggled through a poor shooting performance in that same game. Finally addressing the issue, Mike Patrick stated that Redick has ‘about one of these [games] a year.’ Apparently Mike missed J.J.s 6 of 19 masterpiece against unranked Virginia Tech, the 6 of 16 performance against unranked St. Johns, or, for that matter, a career shooting percentage that is well south of the fifty percent mark that truly great shooters attain. Patrick was present for J.J.s 5 of 22 handiwork against Georgia Tech only weeks later and still the Duke love fest continued unabated.
A moderate length book could be written on Vitale and Patricks unabashed love for Duke. As all fans know, both men are unable to speak without the word Duke steadily trickling from their mouths. Recently, ESPN aired the Gonzaga-Stanford game from Spokane, Washington. Vitale was assigned the commentary. Duke had defeated Maryland earlier that day in a solid, but not spectacular, eight point victory. Although he did not cover the game, and was 3,000 miles away from it, Vitale mentioned that he had watched Dukes performance on television. He proceeded to comment repeatedly on the performances of JJ Redick and Shelden Williams, seemingly oblivious to the game that was unfolding live before his eyes.
When Vitale and Patrick work a Duke game together, they frequently become so excited in discussing Coach K and Redick that it seems only a matter of time before one, or both, have an accident on set. Who could forget their commentary during the previously mentioned Georgia Tech game in which they expressed the seemingly sincere belief that K could coach the U.S.A. Bobsled team to a gold medal and that Dukes football program should try to hire the man?
Like the sports writers, Dick and Mike take a head in the sand approach to Dukes many negatives. They teamed up, for example, in calling the Duke-Boston College game this year. In that game, Duke received 37 free throw attempts to BCs 13. The stat appeared briefly on screen during the closing moments of the game. Patrick began to address the numbers by remarking how it is frequently said that Duke makes more free throws than its opponents attempt. Vitale promptly cut-in and explained, ‘Thats because Duke takes it to you,’ as if aggressive play explains why a team is whistled for fewer fouls than its opponent.
Exactly two weeks later, Patrick called the UNC-Georgia Tech game in Chapel Hill. In that game, Tech built a big first half lead. UNC came back, primarily by pounding the ball inside to its star low post player Tyler Hansbrough. Tech accumulated a high foul count as it attempted unsuccessfully to stop Hansbrough with physical interior play. Near games end, a free throw attempt stat appeared showing a 31 19 advantage for Carolina. From this, Patrick explained how Paul Hewitt, Techs coach, seemed to have a legitimate beef about the discrepancy. Earlier in the game, Patrick described the free throw disparity as ‘astounding.’ Any objective commentator would have added something to the effect of, ‘Its not quite what we saw in the Duke-BC game two weeks ago,’ but Patrick never even thought of it.
And yet Patrick managed to outdo himself a few weeks later as Duke was losing in its rematch to FSU. In that game, the unthinkable occurred as FSU actually enjoyed a significant advantage in free throws. Midway through the second half, Patrick, with resentment dripping from every word, noted that Duke has been called for ’so many more fouls’ than FSU that it was a good point at which to address the growing complaints of an officials conspiracy. Immediately, Vitale chimed in as the two emphatically berated the absurdity of this complaint. In their combined minds, this single game was enough to balance the scales and to eliminate any suspicions as to how Duke constantly accumulates prodigious foul advantages over the course of a season.
Because they are so lost in their love for Duke, Vitale and Patrick regularly personify the hypocrisy that is Duke basketball. Just look at their treatment of the free throw discrepancy issue. Better yet, consider Vitales comments during Dukes home loss to UNC on senior night. The man actually credited Duke with overachieving this season. The exact quote was that ‘They have rode (sic) the coattails of two star players,’ and gone on to accomplish far more than could be expected. It was a bizarre statement from the same man who, immediately after UNC won the title in April of 2005, announced that ‘the Dukies will be cutting down the nets in Indy next year.’ In that same game in which Vitale stated that verbal and physical abuse has no place in college athletics, Sean Dockery shoved Tyler Hansbrough in the face during a dead ball. ESPNs own replay showed this clear basis for a technical foul and player ejection, neither of which occurred. Vitale said nothing about it.
Again, it is this shameless double-standard that causes us to hate Duke.
– Chapter Four — Bias of Game Officials
The media bias, while annoying to be sure, pales in comparison, and significance, to that of the game’s officials. For the sake of clarity, I do not, nor have I ever, contended that there is some deliberate conspiracy at work here. There is, however, an undeniable bias in favor of Duke amongst the media and the NCAA. This bias is perpetuated and exacerbated by the media and combines with Mike Krzyzewskis uncontrolled bullying of game officials to generate truly insane consequences.
A. Mind-boggling free throw disparities.
By now, most have heard how Duke’s basketball team has enjoyed seasons where its players convert more free throws than their opponents attempt. Admittedly, this fact, standing alone, is not necessarily cause for criticism, as smaller and lesser talented teams are more likely to foul their bigger, quicker, more talented adversaries.
In Duke’s case, however, the actual numbers, when viewed in appropriate context, are staggering. In 2000-01, the last championship season, Duke actually attempted 1,002 free throws, compared to its opponents’ 701 attempts. Think about that statistic for a moment – over one thousand free throws. During that season, Duke players were assessed with 659 fouls; the opposition, 848. The year before, Duke converted on 618 free throws, 81 more than its opponents attempted. (For the doubting reader, the Duke Basketball Report website published all of these season statistics in 2005 though, for some reason, the statistics were removed after the first dissemination of this writing.)
Certainly, these statistics are themselves absurd, but the issue becomes inexplicable when one considers the team’s traditionally aggressive approach to the game. Krzyzewski, remember, shuns the zone defense, insisting instead that his players confront even superior athletes with his signature, hard-nosed man-to-man. By its nature, man-to-man is a more physical defensive style, one that Duke players execute with bloodhound intensity. Usually, man-to-man defense generates a higher foul count than the more passive zone alternatives, but somehow not for Duke. Instead, Duke players routinely waltz to the charity stripe at twice the rate of their opponents, all while hacking, slapping, and hand-checking opponents up and down the court.
Remember too that Duke regularly leads the conference in steals and blocked shots – other telltale signs of aggressive play – and still enjoys prodigious advantages in foul tallies. Going back to the title year, for example, Duke had 411 steals compared to its opponents’ 282; Duke blocked 196 shots, its opponents, 117. Inside players, meanwhile, feast off of a constant barrage of moving picks and not-so subtle pushes. Danny Ferry, for example, was allowed to shove his way to better collegiate rebound stats than any number of superior inside players who have subsequently, in pro ball, easily exposed his dearth of true skills.
The foul disparities become more baffling still, when one considers Duke’s prevailing offensive approach. In recent years, Duke has emphasized the three point shot. For roughly the past five seasons, the offensive philosophy reminds one of the 1980s Loyola-Maramount squads as Duke players repeatedly jack up one long-range shot after another. Usually, such a team approach produces low foul counts for the opposition, as outside shooters are rarely fouled. Nevertheless, Duke’s free throw advantage continues unabated, even as JJ Redick runs and guns in a fashion that would make Rick Pitino proud.
Some suggest that the foul disparities can be explained by late game intentional fouls committed when trailing opponents seek to stop the clock during the closing minutes of a game. Vitale offered this excuse up as he discussed Duke throughout this years Gonzaga-Stanford game. But that justification actually died with the advent of the 35 second shot clock. In the 1970s and early 80s, large foul disparities were commonplace as teams frequently held the ball for the final several minutes of a game. Dean Smiths Four Corners offense was the classic example there. But all of this came to a stop with the shot clock. Now, it is rare for a team to intentionally foul more than three or for times for clock stopping purposes. Think about it: when was the last time you saw a game where the last four to five minutes were nothing but free throws? When Duke lost its senior night game to UNC, the team committed only three intentional fouls, (excluding Dockerys unpenalized shove to Hansbroughs face). By offering this obsolete excuse, Duke supporters actually only explain why Dean Smith enjoyed free throw advantages. It says nothing for why Duke enjoys its astounding advantage at the line today.
Others have attempted to downplay the disparities by pointing to other programs, such as UConn and UNC, that traditionally enjoy free throw advantages. This excuse too is specious. As previously acknowledged, superior teams do enjoy free throw advantages. Always have. That is not unusual for the reasons stated earlier. But lets try it again: What IS unusual is for a team (1) to play NOTHING but chest-to-chest, man-to-man defense, complete with constant hand-checking, (2) to lead the conference in steals and blocks, (3) to rely largely on a perimeter based offense, (4) to deliberately initiate contact with opposing players in an effort to draw offensive foul calls, which are always close and subjective in nature, (5) to rely on constant interior and perimeter screens in order to free its only two reliable scorers, (6) to have one of the most verbally abusive coaches in the country, and STILL enjoy foul discrepancies of this magnitude. This combination is unprecedented in the history of college basketball.
Good examples of the Duke bias came in late January. Duke struggled mightily in its game against newly added ACC foe Boston College before eventually winning by two. The final foul shot tally: Duke 37, BC 13. Thats right, 13 free throws for a team that confronted an aggressive man-to-man defense, a flurry of moving picks, and Shelden Williams signature elbows the entire game. The best part of the game came at about the four minute mark when a referee whistled an extremely controversial fifth foul on BCs pre-season All-American Craig Smith. Incredibly, before receiving any notification from the scorers table, the same ref sprinted to the BC bench and shouted, ‘Thats five! Thats five!’ One must ask if there is any legitimate reason why a floor referee should know an individual players foul tally and react with such excitement over a star players disqualification. By the way, that same All-American player, in thirty-five minutes of action, received zero (0) free throw attempts of his own.
As bad as the Boston College game was, the referees outdid themselves in Dukes next game against Florida State. In order to eke out this two point overtime victory, Duke needed every one of its 43 free throw attempts. FSU, meanwhile, saw a total of 11 free throws in 45 minutes of play. The refs finest moment came in the second half when Shelden Williams received a hard foul as he went up for a dunk. Williams jumped off of the floor and shoved Alexander Johnson in retaliation. Johnson simply raised his arms, hands open, in response. The referee, having already called an intentional foul on Johnson, responded to Williams shove by immediately pointing to both players.
Thats right, a double technical foul was called because of Shelden Williams decision to shove an opponent during a dead ball. In this way, Johnson received two fouls on one play. This ran his game total to five, resulting in his immediate disqualification. To make matters worse, this double technical came after the referees huddled and conferred at length after the play. Again, I won’t use the word ‘conspiracy,’ but it sure seemed suggestive to me. Taking us back full-circle to the media bias, the next morning Greensboro News & Record writer Rob Daniels actually wrote the following about the botched double technical, ‘FSU probably got the better end of the deal.’ His reasoning was that the technical resulted in Williams fourth personal foul, which forced him to sit out a total of three minutes for the entire game. Somehow, this was more damaging than fouling out the opposing teams big man for absolutely no valid reason. The call was so egregious that the team of referees was suspended for one game. Somehow, this response did not exactly right the wrong for the Seminoles. But, who knows, perhaps Coach K will petition the NCAA to remove the win from his record and move it to FSUs column where it belongs.
And, please, dont think the BC and FSU games were anomalies. This kind on nonsense happens all of the time for Duke. In their nail biter against Georgia Tech, Duke enjoyed a 25-10 free throw advantage, (a stat that game announcer Mike Patrick surprisingly overlooked). In other games this season Duke outdid Temple 39 10 at the line. Duke passed Valparaiso in free throw attempts to the tune of 36-15. Against Miami, the advantage was 33-16. Against Texas, in a match-up of the number one and two ranked teams, Duke doubled the Longhorns in attempts at the line. Same for Drexel, Memphis, and Pennsylvania. My favorite was the Boston University game, where the free throw attempts were 26-4.
Bjorn Borg, the 70s Swedish tennis phenom who won five consecutive Wimbledon titles, was perhaps best known for his incredibly cool composure on the court. The model of sportsmanship, Borg never questioned calls or offered so much as a troubled facial expression. In a sport where questionable calls are frequent, it was quite an accomplishment, particularly as he confronted the short-fused likes of Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe. Once asked to explain his secret to sportsmanship,
Borg responded that he believes officials make bad calls; however, they usually even out over the course of a match. Can anyone seriously argue that foul disparities even out over the course of a Duke game, much less a season? Stone cold statistics say otherwise. Nevertheless, Times writer Michael Sokolove says that it ’seems far-fetched’ to claim that Krzyzewskis success is largely due to one-sided officiating. Yes, Mr. Sokolove, you are correct; as the saying goes, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.
B. The Duke Flop.
Perhaps the biggest reason for the disparity in foul totals is the outrageous manner in which game officials apply the ever-subjective offensive foul rule. You know the scenario: An opposing player blows by a slower Duke defender while being closely guarded thirty feet from the basket. As the player races to the hoop for a lay-up, another Duke player jumps into his path, often while the offensive player is in the air, deliberately causing a dangerous collision near the basket. The late arriving defender falls over backward, arms flailing, with a melodramatic shriek. As sure as the sun sets in the West, one of the three game referees will run to the scene, often from far out of position, hand clasped behind his head, whistle sounding loudly, all with Krzyzewski’s pumping fist signaling his approval in the background. Of course, when the opposition attempts to return the favor, the call is just as surely a block or, at best, a no call.
This defensive ‘play’ is in all ways analogous to a baseball player stepping in front of a pitch in a deliberate effort to get a free pass to first base by being plunked. The only difference is that the basketball flop gives the added bonus of bringing an opposing player 1/5 of the way to disqualification.
While many times the Duke player accomplishes his goal of creating a violent collision, any given game brings several additional defensive ‘plays’ in which a Duke defender drops to the floor when his opponent so much as breathes on him. The Duke team is so thoroughly trained to resort to this regularly rewarded tactic that it is common so see them fall anywhere on the court – near the basket, at mid-court, in the backcourt, sometimes while the offensive player is simply dribbling laterally, making no effort to move towards the basket. In 2005, during the closing seconds of its last loss to Maryland, for instance, a Duke defender actually flopped beneath Maryland’s defensive goal on an inbound play.
Taking the tradition to new levels, JJ Redick recently debuted a new version: the offensive flop. It was unveiled early in this seasons first UNC game as JJ went up for a mid-range jumpshot, which he made. After releasing the ball, JJ jerked his body as if overtaken by a violent seizure and plopped loudly onto the floor. Replays showed no contact, other than perhaps a grazing of the defenders leg, which JJ initiated as he straddled his legs in an effort to ‘draw the foul.’ Again, in his home loss of senior night, JJ fell to the floor for no apparent reason after launching a baseline three early in the game. Fortunately, the referees did not take the bait on either occasion, but, rest assured, future Dukies will perfect the ploy with greater results.
This patented ‘Duke flop’ is without doubt the most maddening innovation of the Coach K era, (with his players’ tendency to slap the floor at midcourt in a purported show of defensive solidarity running a close second). Over the course of an average game, the Duke opponent sees five to six baskets, or ten to twelve points (fifteen to eighteen if we count the three-point play that should have resulted), erased by this grossly one-sided call. Duke, meanwhile, receives additional five to six free throws as opponents are regularly whistled for blocks. Year after year, legendary athletes, from Jordan to Bias to Duncan to Carter, are unfairly handicapped by the spectrum of inferior Duke players jumping into their paths and flopping backwards, even if contact is avoided. Indeed, it is not unusual for slow-motion replays to show Duke defenders beginning their staged falls, before, occasionally in the total absence of, actual contact.
Much to the chagrin of flop-leader Shane Battier, it was because of this infuriating nonsense that the NBA actually amended its rules to prohibit offensive fouls from being called as the result of charges within five feet of the basket. And for great reason: games should not turn on the basis of inferior athletes deliberately diving into an opposing player’s path in order to manufacture an offensive foul call. This is not basketball. It breaks the flow of any game, angers fans, and endangers athletes. In a broader sense, it perverts the game by shaving points from opposing teams’ scores while simultaneously saddling their players with fouls that should never be charged.
The biggest absurdity is that this precise tactic is supposed to be a ‘point of emphasis’ for NCAA officials. Specifically, point of emphasis no. 2, taken directly from the NCAA rulebook for 2003-04, reads as follows:
The committee is also concerned with the defensive player who fails to attain legal guarding position and, consequently, impedes or blocks the progress of an offensive player going to the basket. When a defensive player attempts to draw a charge, but establishes defensive position late, he shall be penalized for a block.
Suffice it to say, most officials missed this instruction.
At its basic core, the Duke flop is simply a close cousin of a cheap, dirty play to which some third rate teams once resorted in the final seconds of lost games. Usually reserved for high school games played before less sophisticated referees, some of us saw it in the 1985 title game as Villanova was about to upset Georgetown. After a timeout, with only seconds remaining, the players returned to the floor. As the referee handed the ball over to be inbounded, a Georgetown player suddenly wrapped both arms around his opponent and fell over backwards, pulling the Villanova player on top of him. The hope was for a referee to miss the takedown, yet call a foul after hearing the players thump the floor and seeing the Nova player atop of the Georgetown player. Billy Packer commented on the ruse during a replay and put it well by saying, ‘Its really just a dirty play. Its one thing to play hard. Its another thing to play dirty.’
Isnt the Duke flop the same play in principle and spirit? Directly initiating a collision with an opponent by jumping into his path and initiating contact against the opponents will? As Packer stated well, playing hard is one thing and theres no question that Duke players do play hard but playing dirty is quite another. The Duke flop is, plain and simple, a dirty play for which Duke is rightly despised.
C. The Duke Hand-Check.
Another Duke trademark is the ability of its players, primarily its guards, to hand-check opponents as they approach their offensive goal. Again, we see it on virtually every possession: the opposing team brings the ball front court. Immediately, Dukes guards ‘man up’ to their opponents with their legs spread widely and a rigid arm thrust into the opponents hip or gut. It is more of a stiff-arm than a hand-check, and it is vital to the aggressive man-to-man defensive scheme. Without it, the opposing player would easily blow by the Duke defender. By using this solid hand-check, Paulus, Dockery, and Redick buy that additional second needed to react to a quick move and to shift into flop position.
Here is a newsflash: The hand-check is illegal. And yet it is never called against Duke. This particular free pass is quite maddening given that it is another purported ‘point of emphasis’ for the officials. Remember the point of emphasis quoted above? The sentence that precedes it is the following: ‘The officials focus must continue to remain on eliminating illegal contact and rough play in the low post, off the ball, in cutting and screening situations, and during hand-checking anywhere on the court.’
So how on earth does Duke get away with this? Clearly, there is no answer.
D. The Duke ‘No Call.’
Another reason behind the foul disparities is the infamous frequency with which officials refuse to whistle Duke players for fouls, despite their trademark aggressive style of play. During the mid-1980’s, an ACC coach anonymously explained Duke’s defensive philosophy as follows: all five defensive players foul all five opposing offensive players at the same time, leaving officials too confused and stunned to respond. Since then, Duke’s impunity has evolved to the point where the game’s rules simply do not apply to the school. Referees absolutely refuse to blow the whistle when Sean Dockery and Redick push off defenders with their left hands; Duke guards are never penalized for extending their arms laterally to obstruct opposing players’ movements; moving interior screens are simply expected; Shelden Williams swings his elbows into opposing player’s faces throughout games in which he collects a total of 3 personal fouls, (none as a result of his headhunting); Coach K screams himself hoarse with profanity with never a technical called. Bench players accost opposing coaches or game referees no problem.
And who could forget last year’s first UNC-Duke game where K presumptuously ambled onto the court, in the middle of play, to talk strategy with Redick. As Billy Packer himself noted, it was indisputable grounds for a technical foul, but the refs never thought of blowing the whistle.
Some believe this seasons BC game, at least, can be explained as an attempt by the referees to introduce a new ACC member to the realities of ACC officiating. There may be something to this theory, as the officials took a similar approach in welcoming Virginia Tech to the league last season during the first of the Duke VPI games. Played at Duke, the game began with Shelden Williams driving his elbow at freshman center Deron Washington’s head, causing him to hit the deck. No foul was called, Williams scored an uncontested first two points of the game, and the tone was set. Throughout the game, Williams pushed, elbowed, and bullied his way through VT’s younger frontcourt players, with officials doing nothing. In the same game, however, the officials whistled an astounding thirty-four team fouls on Virginia Tech, many of which would have gone uncalled in a church league game. An amazing twenty-two fouls — nearly enough to foul out four players — were called in the first half alone. Not surprisingly, Duke won the game by 35 points, 30 of which were scored from the foul line. In an interesting contrast, when the same two teams met only weeks later in Blacksburg, the team foul tallies were essentially even. The result? A Virginia Tech win, (after which JJ Redick’s father complained publicly about the student body’s poor sportsmanship.)
To make matters worse, during the first game, the Duke students began chanting, ‘Please stop fouling,’ as if Tech was attempting to have its entire team disqualified. As the son of a V.M.I. graduate, I have no love for Virginia Tech, but could there be a greater example of the absurd lengths to which officials go with their favoritism?
This season has brought a new round of truly amazing no-calls and blown calls. Take this years Virginia game, which immediately preceded the infamous BC officiating fiasco. JJ Redick somehow was awarded three points on the games first basket even though both feet were fully inside the three point arc. The missed call was so bad that even Mike Patrick expressed surprise. In the home loss on senior night, JJ was given three points on two shots where a foot clearly straddled the arc one of which even Vitale conceded. In the game played at Virginia Tech, Redick, during a baseline drive, elbowed his defender in the groin, causing him to grab his crotch and drop out of bounds. Not surprisingly, Redick scored. On replays, the most glaring part of the play was the defenders reaction to having his bell rung. Nevertheless, Dick Vitales only remarks were to express awe at JJs head fake, ball fake, and general basketball genius.
Later this same season, against Temple, a clear push-off by Redick was similarly ignored. During the 2002-03 season, Dahntay Jones whipped Raymond Felton with an elbow to the face, which opened a frightening laceration and caused Felton to immediately drop as if shot. Again no foul was called; however, the officials did order Felton out of the game until the Carolina cornermen stopped the bleeding.
And what better example could there be than the Laettner foot stomp? During the 1992 Regional Final against Kentucky, Laettner stomps on the chest of a fallen Wildcat. He is given a T, but allowed to continue on and, ultimately, to hit the game winner that CBS cannot show enough. Can you imagine what would have happened if the tables had been turned and a Duke player had been kicked? No need to. We found out this year when Virginia Techs Deron Washington was immediately ejected after he ‘kicked’ Lee Melchionni while both players were on the floor. It wasnt a kick, and certainly wasnt a stomp. But it was grounds for immediate expulsion. And yet, only weeks later, the referees did nothing in response to Sean Dockerys decision to shove Tyler Hansbrough in the face during a deadball, even as it happened directly in front of an official.
E. K’s Career Long Free Pass.
Finally, the foul tallies are beyond defense when one considers the number of technical fouls that should be called on the head coach himself in every game. Again, the point is beyond dispute. Game after game, K drops the ‘f-bomb’ with the frequency of a drunk sailor, along with all the other traditional profanities. And when was his last technical foul?
Big deal you say? According to the NCAA points of emphasis it is supposed to be. ‘Coaches who engage in the following actions violate the bench decorum rules and shall be assessed a direct technical foul:
Directing personal, vulgar or profane remarks or gestures toward an official; Voicing displeasure about officiating through continuous verbal remarks; Leaving the coaching box for an unauthorized reason.
Does any of that sound familiar?
– Chapter Five –
Bastardizing Game Effects of Pro-Duke Officiating
Think the officials’ bias is inconsequential or overstated? Think again. While the numbers themselves tell the story, decades of history provide extensive anecdotal evidence of the college ref’s embellishing impact. How many of the all time Duke basketball greats promptly proceeded to fizzle at the next level where game rules are actually enforced in an unbiased manner and where defenders must actually defend their opponents standing up? Mark Alarie, Johnny Dawkins, David Henderson, Billy King, Robert Brickey, Phil Henderson, Kevin Strickland, Danny Ferry, Alaa Abdelnaby, Brian Davis, Antonio Lang, Cherokee Parks, William Avery, Shane Battier, Reshown McLeod, Dahntay Jones, Chris Carawell, Mike Dunleavy — the list is seemingly endless. Past Duke rosters read like a ‘Who’s Who?’ of professional basketball jokes, most of whom quickly ship out to European leagues after early failure in the NBA. Greg Koubek, for example, did impressive pro tours in Turkey, South Africa, and Hungary. Greg Newton found his stardom in Canada after failing in the true basketball hotbed of Bulgaria. Others find homes in the prestigious NBDL, (e.g. Nate James who starred for the North Charleston Lowgators before being cut in France.) Still others fill high school gym bleachers for the CBA. One of my Duke favorites, Ricky Price, did so with the Great Lakes Storm.
With the sole exceptions of Grant Hill (on those rare seasons when he does not – like his college mentor — sit out entire seasons for injuries), Elton Brand, and Carlos Boozer, it would be fair to say that every Coach K era Duke basketball star has, at the pro level, either completely failed or substantially under performed vis–vis his college record, with Danny Ferry perhaps best symbolizing the stuff of the Duke basketball reality check.
Duke fans respond that Luol Deng and Corey Maggette are also big pro successes. Personally, I believe the jury is still out on Mr. Deng, but let’s add both players to the short list of Duke’s successful pros. Doing so only furthers the argument that Duke is bad for player development. Why? Because both Deng and Maggette left Duke after a single season, before the college refs’ kid gloves treatment spoiled their natural abilities. Note also that Brand left after two years, Boozer after three. So in the end, Grant Hill is really the only player to have overcome four year’s of Duke experience and still succeed in the NBA. Of course even the precious few Dukies who survive in the NBA fail to win championships. With the exception of Danny Ferry, who had the dumb luck to find himself riding the bench of Tim Duncan’s champion Spurs teams, no Coach K graduate has ever (legally) popped anything more than a Motrin tablet in an NBA locker room.
The consistency with which Duke players ripen into professional failures is staggering. Even the ’sure thing’ future NBA stars promptly stink it up as pros. Remember two-time player of the year, Mr. Everything, Jason Williams? The guy picked second overall in the 2002 NBA draft? In the single season NBA career that followed before breaking his leg in a motorcycle accident, he averaged less than 10 points a game and shot under forty percent. How about William Avery, that other Duke great whom commentators saw as a can’t miss NBA star? You remember, the 14th overall pick in the ‘99 draft? His three year career ended with a scoring average of 2.7 ppg on a hideous 33% shooting percentage. Trajan Langdon (a/k/a ‘the Alaskan Assassin’) went 11th overall in the ‘99 NBA draft. Three years later, he found his niche in Italy.
Even all-time media darling Christian Laettner (#3 overall in ‘92 draft) has unwittingly exposed the extent to which his collegiate success depended upon Coach K’s striped worshipers. Laettner’s career NBA numbers (12.7 points, 6.7 rebounds per game) are reasonably respectable, even if accumulated while being traded more frequently than Krzyzewski’s hair dye schedule.
However, his career, which includes but a single All-Star game, falls far short of the greatness that hoops analysts projected on the basis of his golden boy college years. And does anyone seriously believe that the trend of pro duds will end with JJ Redick and Shavlick Randolph?
Compare the post-collegiate accomplishments of the following UNC grads from the same time period: Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Brad Daugherty, Kenny Smith, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, Antawn Jameson, Vince Carter. The group has collected enough NBA rings, All-Star appearances, and MVP awards to fill the Dean Dome. Nevertheless, each of these players, with the possible exception of Worthy, who went pro before Krzyzewski was given his sainthood status, struggled against the one-sided neutralizing effect of the collegiate officials.
Even schools traditionally considered a tier below Duke have accomplished far greater NBA success than Duke. Consider Georgia Tech’s contributions during Coach K’s career: Mark Price, John Salley, Tom Hammonds, Dennis Scott, Kenny Anderson, Matt Geiger, Stephon Marbury, Matt Harpring, and Chris Bosh. Maryland has added Albert King, Buck Williams, Tony Massenburg, Walt Williams, Joe Smith, Steve Francis, and Juan Dixon, all from the Krzyzewski era and all of whom have enjoyed solid NBA careers. And even Steve Blake, by the way, is doing just fine in the NBA, averaging 8 points and 4 assists a game. Georgetown placed Ewing, Motumbo, Mourning, Iverson, Sleepy Floyd, Reggie Williams, David Wingate. Most of these successful pros were also considered inferior to their various Duke counterparts who are now heckled by foreign tongues.
Other absurd examples of the Duke flop’s bastardizing effect on the game abound. When I attended Duke, for example, the student body rejoiced as Christian Laettner actually got the better of a vaunted LSU center named Shaquille O’Neal. Two seasons earlier, Christian finished with better numbers than Alonzo Mourning. These unfathomable outcomes were all due to the manner with which the college official favors Duke above any other team.
One must wonder why college refs would show such transparent favoritism to a program of haughty whiners. Remember Phil Henderson’s publicized mid-season tirade about Lenny Wirtz? How about Krzyzewski’s tendency to hold mid-court tantrums, replete with profanity, any time his team falls behind in a game? Just last season, the man experienced a seemingly endless meltdown, which would have made any spoiled three year-old envious, as his team lost at home to Georgia Tech. Who could forget K’s classless screaming to refs ‘you killed us’ after his team’s 2004 semifinal loss to UConn. Or Matt Christiansen physically accosting a referee in the aftermath of an earlier Duke tournament loss, only to be recognized weeks later by Coach K as the player who most exemplifies Duke basketball. And still the refs treat these spoiled louts as if they were their own fair-haired children.
At any rate, it is because of the Duke players’ inability to adjust to the shock of objectively enforced rules that so many fail in the NBA, and in Europe (e.g., Casey Saunders’ cut by a Swedish team; Nate James canned in France), and quickly return – where else – to Duke to rejoin Coach K as an assistant coach. Any given year brings us a team of real world flops who take on the role of assistant coach. Currently, two of Duke’s more obnoxious alumni – Chris Collins and Steve Wojokowski – join Johnny Dawkins in this capacity. Others, such as Tommy Amaker, Quinn Snyder, David Henderson, have found homes as equally underachieving college head coaches. Note that the latter two were recently fired for their recurring futility.
The biggest mystery to all of this is why any high school standout would chose Duke in light of this history. There is simply no doubt that Duke players fail, routinely, in the NBA (and elsewhere) after graduation. This is not opinion; it is absolute, stone cold FACT. Still, year after year, Coach K lands three to five McDonald’s high school All-Americans, only to see the same players humiliate themselves in pro ranks. Truly, a high school All-American selecting Duke has to be the worst career move since Shelly Long left the cast of Cheers. The same is true for any pro scout who selects a Duke player in the NBA draft. And yet, sure as the day is long, some NBA team will make JJ Redick a lottery pick within the next six months.
– Chapter Six –
No essay on the subject can be complete without discussion of the mindless Duke fan base that has emerged over the past decade or so. As distinguished from the obnoxious student body that at least has a reason to support the team, these are the fair-weather fans that simply root for whichever team enjoys a winning tradition at a given point in time. They are the folks we see in four-wheel drives donning Blue Devil baseball caps and championship bumper stickers. Neither the Duke fan nor his close friends or family members attended Duke, but they have all purchased Blue Devil apparel from a Durham County Wal-Mart.
Unheard of during Krzyzewski’s early years, this growing collection of gullible dupes also buys into the media’s misplaced love for Duke by believing that the program and its coach are class unmatched. Most of the fans are North Carolinians, who, perhaps not unreasonably, assume that the school’s central state location is reason enough to justify an allegiance to it. Because the Blue Devil fan has no firsthand experience with the school, he has no idea that the vast majority of the student body (eighty-five percent) is imported, with a large percentage comprising smug Northeastern carpetbaggers who constantly mock North Carolina and its native residents. Much of the independent Duke fan base consists of teen and pre-teen fans, a fact that confirms the necessity of compulsory education and minimum age drinking laws.
Like the school, the Duke fan refuses to comprehend Duke’s many failures and somehow spins them into absurd distortions. The Duke fan is convinced that Duke players dominate in the NBA and creates various myths to hide the endless embarrassing proof to the contrary. He has come to believe that Cherokee Parks is a renowned Indian retirement community, rather than a classic NBA flop whose most distinguishing feature is a hideous assortment of tattoos. The perception that other schools are rude and cruel to Duke players, completely without cause, is another great example of this distorted mindset. The Duke fan honestly believes that Mike Krzyzewski is handsome and marvels at his ability to coach ACC basketball for a quarter of a century without sprouting a single grey hair.
Often short on intelligence and independent thought processes, the Duke fan blindly accepts the media’s portrayal of the program and is sure that Duke has won many more than three national championships in its one hundred years of college basketball history. The Duke fan indeed worships the sportscasters who perpetuate the myth of Duke superiority. He believes, for instance, that Dick Vitale is a keen and discerning basketball expert and an intelligent man in general. As such, the Duke fan goes through life believing that ‘notoriety’ is fame for something good and that ‘athletics’ is a four syllable word.
The Duke fans represented themselves particularly well following UNC’s national championship last season. Mere days afterwards, they flocked to internet message boards with the long-time Duke rallying cry of, ‘Wait till next year.’ Before UNC’s NCAA championship banner had even been hung, they mocked UNC for the humiliation it would surely receive the following year, as its star underclassmen announced their NBA plans. Duke fans promised weekly 40 point drubbings for UNC and raised questions as to whether the defending champion would even qualify for the NIT. Some suggested that Doherty’s 8-20 season would look good by comparison. The same individuals responded with disapproval to the UNC supporters who celebrated when UNC defeated Duke for its 21st victory a year later in Cameron. Such celebration, in the minds of Duke fans, bordered on the blasphemous in that it followed a spoiling of JJ Redick’s and Shelden Williams’s senior night celebration.
But above all, the Duke fan is a master of denial. He goes through life honestly thinking that Coach K and his players can do no wrong. Unable to rebut, if even read, the points made in writings such as this, his sole response is to wave off all criticism with the childhood response of, ‘You’re just jealous.’