Sunday, April 4, 2010

Whether You Like It or Not, Duke Lives with Hate

There’s a way to describe the Duke Blue Devils. It’s a prestigious institution wrapped in much mystique, and proclaimed as the school of all villains. Why?

For years, we’ve disdained a campus in an environment arrogance makes a strong impression, scrutinized either for its collective win total or overbearing personality that a majority of the nation cannot stand one bit.

But here in America, it’s not surprising that people either envy or hate a school for all the attention and worshipping it collects. This nation loves to hate Duke, glaring senselessly at the program as if they are harming college hoops. This writing isn’t to personally attack Duke, but it’s to notify students and alumni that it’s the most hated team in the nation.

Exactly why are we forced to glance at the evildoers of college hoops Monday night, the archenemies the country wanted to fall in the early stages of the NCAA tournament? It’s not exactly what everyone anticipated, unless you are that someone with their eyes glued to the television, rooting on the Blue Devils from Durham, North Carolina.

Here we have a cute fairy tale, as a villain tries to spoil a feel-good story. No disrespect to Butler, the cutest storyline in the NCAA tournament after winning its first ever Final Four in school history, which seems in jeopardy. So there’s a scheduled meeting with Butler and Duke, an unfriendly and hostile date with lingering bitterness, which has provoked a controversy.

To some extent, mostly everyone hates the Blue Devils for its tremendous credibility and prominence. If there are some things to dislike about Duke, maybe it’s Dickie V, the passionate ESPN analyst and sports announcer bracing and divulging his deepest love to the Blue Devils. Every time you listen to him communicate, he’s normally genuine and emphatic, but most disgruntled sporting devotees deny Duke’s physical and mental toughness, blatant and malicious to its sudden rebirth. It’s apparent that its brand name turns populace off drawing much antipathy as well.

Simply, no one cares about the Blue Devils, in hopes that they’ll lose to an elite program from a small school located in northern Indianapolis. For years, Duke has been targeted and singled out. For years, Duke has been teased and mocked. Why must the average fan give them such a hard time? The program itself has been getting lambasted for decades, because of its pompous attributes and unlikable standards. Such is its craftiness, its athletes, its demands, and its rituals.

These days, when Duke advances to the Final Four or the national championship game, bitter fans are disappointed and tired of the Blue Devils absorbing the spotlight. Come now, the cultural standpoints of hating a very talented and educated program still remains. At a school that takes in much pride, animosity is inevitable, but cannot affect their splendid game plan of late.

You can argue that Duke is the best team, when the Bulldogs are the biggest feel-good story in the tournament. All the drama humiliating the Blue Devils will either make them or break them down. But come to think of it, Duke normally functions whenever haters and disbelievers expect ill-results from a resilient and relentless team, craving another national title.

At this point, Mike Krzyzewski, who has had led Duke to a total of 11 Final Fours, including seven in the last nine seasons, is the root of all evil. He was berated in The Indianapolis Star on Friday, where an image of himself with devil horns was seen on the front page.

“It’s very juvenile,” said Krzyzewski, the man with a hardwood floor named after him. “We have great kids who go to school. They graduate. If we’re going to be despised or hated by anybody because we go to school and want to win, you know what? That’s a problem.”

With all due respect, Coach K has molded and mentored his student-athletes. Notice most of his kids decide to remain in school without forgoing their junior or senior year, not in a hurry to chase the cash at the next level. He encourages his players to weigh their options before making a transition to the NBA. And rarely do his student athletes leave as one-and-done players.

For instance, Lance Thomas, a smart and gifted 6’8” senior opted to return and has benefited, now competing to win a national title and depart on top. Same goes for Jon Scheyer, the senior guard with the ability to bury three-pointers and take command in the scoring column. He’s a primary reason the Blue Devils have driven this far, making critical plays in the games, which uplifts morale and prevalence.

Is that another reason Duke is hated so?

If so, it’s pure ignorance and jealousy.

Maybe it’s an overbearing program, with brainwashed athletes. Maybe they honestly believe no team in the nation is capable of beating them, overtaking them, or even embarrassing them. Like it or not, Duke has revisited the national landscape matching familiarity with Coach K implementing a teachable perception and defensive standards. His potent roster over the years has transformed and reestablished, becoming America’s nuisance and winnable program. The local newspapers’ editors apologized to Coach K and his wife for its heartless reactions earlier in the week.

More than anything, hating Duke comes as no surprise. Perhaps you hated them since Laettner fired his electrifying buzzer-beater, you hated them since Grant Hill emerged as a legitimate star, you hated them since J.J Redick become the all-time scoring leader.

Is there anything else? Yes, you hated them since Coach K came along, taught, and mentored by the former coach we all admire greatly, Bobby Knight, even though he scolded his players, threw temper tantrums on the sideline, and crazy tirades at postgame interviews.

I cannot recall such reaction by Coach K.

There’s nothing personal, it’s just the program he coaches and runs.

Sadly, everyone hates Duke.