Is Austin Rivers Among the Most Hated Duke Players of All Time?


     If Coach K, elitism, flopping, whining and a plethora of other reasons weren’t enough to hate Duke, there’s always the players. When thinking about the most detested players to ever put on a Duke uniform, one could easily compile a list of 50. Their players are one of the reasons Duke is not only despised by Tar Heel fans but also college basketball fans across the nation. Duke fans will tell you that they are hated because they win all the time, but we know better. It is childish and immature to hate a team and its players just because they win a lot. I think I speak for the rest of Tar Heel nation when I say that it’s not the fact that Duke wins that irks us so much as how they win. Otherwise we would hate Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and Syracuse . . . which I don’t.

I was able to narrow down my list to the top five most hated Dukies of all time. Before I reveal my choices, I’d like to set forth the criteria I used. First of all, it makes sense that the longer a player stayed at Duke the more animosity he incurred. I can hardly imagine how much I would have hated Kyrie Irving if he had stayed all four years at Duke. Fortunately Tar Heels fans only had to endure half a season’s worth of drooling over Irving by ESPN commentators. Another factor I used was attitude. Who constantly argued with officials? Who talked more smack to the opposing teams’ benches? Who looked the most like the guy who snitched on everyone in the third grade? And finally there are certain Dukies who for one reason or another earned a spot on the list for one or two actions that were so egregious that they will never be forgiven. So without further ado, here are my choices for the most hated Duke players of all time.

5. Bobby Hurley

It’s hard to believe it has been 20 years since Duke won their first national title. However it was the 1990-1992 teams that set the standard for Duke player behavior (condoned and encouraged by Coach K). Bobby Hurley was a part of both title teams. Hurley still leads the ACC in assists though I’m quite certain Kendall Marshall would obliterate his record if he were to stay all four years. He’s also the main reason for the success of his teammate Christian Laettner who proved to be one of the biggest disappointments the NBA has ever seen. I put Hurley on the list because if Coach K is the rat then Hurley was the little mouse who ran around for four years trying to pass the cheese. Hurley also tended to weep at the drop of a hat earning him the moniker, “Cry Baby Hurley.” For the younger generations who may not be all that familiar with Hurley, think of him as a more annoying, less arrogant version of J.J. Redick.

4. Gerald Henderson

Henderson did us all a favor by foregoing his senior year at Duke. However, Henderson earned his spot on this list for his actions on March 4, 2007. I will never forget the image of blood streaming down the face of the ACC’s all-time leading scorer, Tyler Hansbrough. One of my friends steal teases me about my reaction to the infamous elbow. I was watching the game at a Pub that I worked at and fueled by bourbon, I started crying at the carnage I had just witnessed. I called my father when it happened in disbelief over Henderson’s elbow. All I could muster was,“Why did he do that?” Now I know the answer. He did it because he’s a Dukie. He did it because they don’t like to lose, and they don’t like to get swept by Carolina teams with superior talent. He did it because Duke thinks that the rules don’t apply to them. To add insult to injury, Coach K said after the incident that the game was over, and Hansbrough shouldn’t have been in the game anyway. I sometimes have dreams about what would have happened had Hansbrough not been restrained by teammates after Henderson mercilessly broke his nose. I think it would have given a whole new meaning to “Psycho T”.

3. Steve Wojciechowski

Part of me hates this guy so much because I had to google him to see how to spell his stupid name correctly. But I can sum up the primary reason “Wojo” comes in at #3 on my list in two words: “floor slap”. For four long years Wojo doused fuel onto the fire of the Cameron Crazies with his on court floor slaps. Wojo’s floor slapping was the only thing more aggravating than his defense. Wojo also had an especially chummy relationship with the ring leader of the evil empire, Mike Krzyzewski. I found this excerpt on that eloquently outlines the nature of the relationship between the two:

Steve Wojciechowski, rushing across the court after Duke’s 1998 victory over North Carolina, looking for his coach. The coach catching his player’s eyes and finding him through a rush of fans streaming on the court to celebrate. Ultimately, the two embrace with tears running down their cheeks, in celebration of the accomplishment and the relationship between coach and player.

I struggled with putting Wojo at #4 and Henderson at #3. However, the tie-breaker was the fact that I still have to look at Wojo’s sorry face as he sits on the Duke bench next to his brother from another mother, Chris Collins.

2. J.J. Redick

        Once again, Redick is almost at the top of the list because of his longevity. I honestly did not think he would ever graduate from Duke. It seemed like he was there for ten years. I can only describe Redick in one word: smug. Redick loved to jaw and talk a good amount of trash to opposing players, however if a referee ever called him out on it (which was rare), he acted like the cat who ate the canary. If there is one player who epitomizes why people hate Duke so much, it is J.J. Redick. On the HBO sports documentary, Battle for Tobacco Road, Redick complained that even on Duke’s campus he took ribbings from campus workers who were Carolina fans. Yes, J.J. sometimes people who weren’t born with silver spoons in their mouths have to work for a living. And yes more often than not they are Carolina fans. Stop your whining. Like the rest of Tar Heel nation, I was personally elated when Tyler Hansbrough broke Redick’s short-lived record as the ACC’s all-time leading scorer. Stick that in your pipe Dickie V and smoke it. If you need any more reasons why Redick is so despised, I encourage you to visit a local Baltimore sports blog,, aka I Hate J.J. Redick.

(drumroll . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .) The envelope please . . . And the NUMBER ONE most hated Dukie of all time is:

       1.  Christian Laettner

Christian Laettner set the bar for just how cocky, obnoxious and downright unsportsmanlike  Duke players can be. One could almost write a book on reasons why to hate Christian Laettner. The fact that we have to watch his shot against Kentucky replayed over and over and over and over again every year is enough in and of itself. Speaking of which he makes the top of this list because I’m pretty sure Wildcat Nation hates him as much if not more than Tar Heel fans.

What the highlight reel fails to show regarding “the shot” is that Laettner should not have even been in the game. He should have been ejected for “the stomp” inflicted on Kentucky player, Aminu Timberlake. Only in recent years did Laettner openly admit that it had been intentional in retaliation of some chippy play. However, he wasn’t telling anyone who saw the stomp live anything they didn’t already know. Though it was not as violent as Henderson’s elbow, it set the standard that Duke players can do whatever they wanted to without consequences. Furthermore, due to the fact that Coach K was an assistant on the 1992 Dream Team, Laettner along with Shaq were the only two college players selected for the team. I think we can all agree that while Shaq certainly has proven his abilities, Christian Laettner had no business being on a team with the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. That’s just Coach K and his nepotism for you. A couple of months ago I found a website that sold stickers and t-shirts that read, “I Still Hate Laettner”. I bought one of each because even after 20 years, I still do.

So there you are ladies and gentlemen, my top five most hated Dukies of all time. No, Austin Rivers did not make my cut. Rivers’ shot cut me like a knife, and afterwards on facebook, a friend commented that he bet I hated Austin Rivers. I responded that I didn’t. I wasn’t angry at Austin Rivers. I was angry at my Tar Heels, probably angrier than I have ever been at a Tar Heel team. There is no reason why Rivers should have even been in the position to win the game. We had the game won, and we gave it away. However, since Rivers’ shot I have heard announcers gush over him like love struck schoolgirls. That is not to say that if he stays all four years that Rivers would more than likely make this list when it was all said and done. But as is, Rivers will probably be gone after this year, and one shot isn’t enough to make me hate him with the intensity that I do the aforementioned. But you never can tell what will happen Saturday. If Rivers pulls another performance in Durham like he did in Chapel Hill, I may have to amend my list. Until then, I still hate Laettner. Who’s your #1?