Or how about a student body so snobby that Elton Brand complained about being excluded from campus life and its "posh group of yuppies"? Cameron Indoor even has brass rails, for goodness sake. However loud the fans may be, the place still looks like the inside of a fern bar. Even the school's name is elitist, with its implications of inherited privilege. But what else can you can expect from college hoops arrivistes?
Emma, you mentioned Kansas, Kentucky, and UNC. All those programs trace their roots straight back to Dr. Naismith, who begat Phog Allen and Adolph Rupp, who begat Dean Smith, who begat Roy Williams and Larry Brown, who hired Bill Self, and so on. Not Duke. Those roots go back just one generation—to Bobby Knight and he's such a jerk that he wore a green sweater to the Blue Devils' record-setting game. The one against Michigan State.
How about this: the most iconic image in the program's history isn't Laettner's shot to beat Kentucky, but Thomas Hill crying after it. And what about Bobby Hurley, who cried every time he was called for a foul. Have we mentioned Gerald Henderson's cheap shot on Tyler Hansbrough?
Sure, Krzyzewski seems to recruit clean, but he coaches dirty, then presents himself as near-saintly—as exemplified by the preening voice-over in his infamous 2005 ad for American Express. In that nasal tone, always cascading down in condescension, Coach K informs us that he's not like all the others.
"I don't look at myself as a basketball coach." he says, "I look at myself as a leader who happens to coach basketball." He then goes on to extol his own virtues at preparing young men for life—with the crystal-clear implication being that other coaches don't. It's just galling.
What say you, Hruby? Are you a Blue Devil-basher like the rest of us?
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.)