I'd like to play the contrarian here. It's what I do best. Problem is, it would defay both history and reason—not to mention a two-second Google search—for me to deny the truth: I'm a longtime, accomplished Duke refusenik. Emphasis on the "k."
Indeed, when his K-ness was rumored to be interested in coaching the Los Angeles Lakers—at their insufferable mid-2000s apex—I all but begged the sports Gods to make it happen, the better to consolidate my sports-fan loathing:
Deliver Mike Krzyzewski unto the Los Angeles Lakers.
Please. Por favor. Sil vou plait. I'm begging you. Send America's K-lassiest coach to America's most dysfunctional sports franchise. Bring group hugs and babbling claptrap about all the special, special kids to a group of men so jaded, you'd expect to find them in a Burmese mine. Pair the NBA's biggest egotist, Kobe Bryant, with the college game's high priest of sideline sanctimony.
Trust me: the first time Bryant drops a dismissive, contemptuous f-bomb on Krzyzewski during a time out, the resulting Coach K nostril flare—is that special, special spittle on the corner of his mouth?—will be well worth your efforts.
When Krzyzewski later signed on to coach the U.S. men's national basketball team, it was enough for me to consider Alec Baldwin-style expatriation:
Don't get me wrong: I love the United States. I'm proud to be an American, despite our status as the world's leading exporter of Michael Bay movies. I'm not exactly standing on the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, teeth chattering, fluttering application for political asylum in hand.
But now that Krzyzewski has been tabbed to lead the U.S. national team, well, let's just say that northern Saskatchewan is starting to look a little more inviting
When Duke failed to reach the Final Four between 2004 and 2009, I actually was a bit sad, because hatin' on the Evil Empire wasn't nearly as fun:
I miss the Blue Devils' long line of get-under-your-skin floor villains: chest-stomping Christian Laettner, so-smart-his-brain-is-on-the-outside-of-his-skull Shane Battier, poetry-penning J.J. Redick. I miss Duke justifying Dick Vitale's breathless exhortations with an overwhelming armada of All-America talent. I miss Coach K bullying ACC refs, and not being the patriotic guy who helped us reclaim Olympic gold. I miss Cameron Indoor's finest being basically as good as North Carolina; I miss seeing Virginia Commonwealth's NCAA tournament upset of Duke as proof that the long arc of the universe bends toward justice.
In short, I miss the bad guys.
And when Arizona throttled Duke in last year's NCAA tournament, I was less happy to see my beloved hometown Wildcats win than to see the Blue Devils' season dissolve into salty tears. (I still have this dunk cued up on my DVR, and watch it any time I feel a bit down.)
As for why I detest Duke, and why so many other people feel likewise? The rest of you pretty much covered the list. With the probable exception of Steve Wojciechowski once winning national defensive player of the year for—as far I could tell—leading the country in floor slaps. Excuse me. Scrappy floor slaps.
People have written entire books about Blue Devils hate—but yeah, I'm the crazy one for using a dunked-on Dukie clip as an antidepressant—and the only semi-original thing I can add is that I dislike Duke Basketball because Duke Basketball is never peddled as just basketball. It's always a morality play, a lesson in doing things the "right way," a metaphor for winning-the-games-of-business-and-life (and hawking theaccompanying airplane ride/Father's Day book while giving b-school leadership seminars). It's mixing the serious notion of real-world ethics and how to, you know, live and be good with the decidedly unserious, make-believe world of tall men throwing an orange ball through a red hoop, all while another man in a suit yells and fumes and struts. It's the Great Big Shining Lie of college sports, and high school sports too, the Grand Experiment espoused by ... Joe Paterno and Penn State. Sports build character? No more than Drivers' Ed. Life builds character. Playing basketball makes you better at dribbling. There is a difference, and the maddening aspect of all things Duke is pretending otherwise.