I read two great letters to the editor in a recent edition of the News & Observer. Not great in the sense of impressive, but great in the sense that I laughed out loud at them and couldn’t wait to write about them. Unfortunately, I can’t find the damn things, so I’ll just paraphrase them here.
The first one:
I just want to say that I think it’s a great thing that UNC is doing by not jumping to conclusions about JamesOn Curry. Let’s wait until all the facts come out and he has his day in court. Maybe he was just set up by someone looking to make a name for himself.
I trust the solid leadership of Mr. Baddour and Mr. Williams and I’m sure they’ll make the right decision. Go Heels!
OK, now generally, this sentiment isn’t so bad. Yes, it’s good to avoid jumping to conclusions. But, I’m going to have to assume that since you can write you can also read. Good lord, the police have mentioned that they have videotape evidence! I’m sorry, but the whole innocent until proven guilty thing is for courts. It’s to protect people before you strip them of their Constitutional rights and throw them in jail. You do not have a right to a scholarship, spot on the team or playing time. If a coach or school thinks you screwed up, whether you were convicted in a courtroom or not, they can and should punish you.
Clearly, this kid was heavily involved in selling drugs. He was charged with six counts of possession and selling drugs. No one was trying to make a name for themselves by nabbing Curry. They had a yearlong sting involving undercover agents at the schools and they arrested 48 other kids. I’m guessing that were just as disappointed as everyone else to find out that their star player was involved.
A kid who has been charged (and will very likely be convicted unless he pleas to something lesser) with six different drug charges after he’s already earned a free ride is not someone you want to give a scholarship too. How do you explain to some parent that they have to pay full tuition for their daughter who earned her way to UNC by achieving in the classroom while the school foots the bill for drug dealers? I’m sorry, you don’t. I feel badly for Curry. He’s a kid and he screwed up. It’s not like he committed a violent crime. But, he did screw up and he should never play for UNC.
And back to this joker who wrote the letter. Anyone who’s a big enough fan to feel compelled to write the paper commending his school on their potential leniancy is not someone to listen to. You just know this guy would feel completely different if Curry had committed to Duke or State. Hey letter guy, how did you feel about Sheldon Williams’ troubles in high school? Or what about Damon Thornton at State? I’d bet my house that he thought they were thugs who had no business in the ACC.
And now the other letter. My summary of this one:
I like the way Duke used to play. They used to run up and down the court and score lots of points. It was fun that way and they won a lot. Now, they seem to play slower and they lose games now. I think coach Krzyzewski is a great coach, but I think he should make his team run more. Then, they’ll win more games.
Do I even need to respond to this? Some guy who writes letters to the paper thinks that he (or maybe she) knows better how to coach Duke than Coach K? Hey, maybe they should try to hit more long shots too. Those count for three points, you know! Ooh, ooh, and those dunks are great. Get some more of those also. Then, Duke’ll really start winning some!
Have you noticed this trend? Duke hatred has always been around, but recently it’s been showing up all over the place. Otherwise normal newspapers have written about it. Check the Albany Herald, Cleveland Plan Dealer, the Washington Post, and even ESPN.
So why all the hatin’? I’ll tell you.
1. They win. There’s no better way to garner hatred. Win. Over time, if you keep winning, people will hate you. America loves a winner, but they really love an underdog. If you keep crushing the underdog, people turn on you. If you keep winning, you’ll eventually beat everyone else’s favorite team. People get tired of you. There’s a reason why so many people hate the Yankees, Cowboys, Lakers and Manchester United.
2. Media exposure. Duke is on TV all the time. Even when they aren’t on they’re on. You can be watching a minor league hockey game between Saskatchewan and Moose Jaw and at some point, the commentators will start talking about Duke. It irritates.
2a. Dick Vitale. He is the most obnoxious, annoying announcer on the planet. And good lord, does he talk about Duke. According to a very scientific study, he mentions Duke and/or Coach K 8.73 times per game when Duke isn’t playing. Nothing is worse than watching a game with your team and listening to Vitale go on and on about Duke while ignoring three consecutive possessions of the game he’s actually watching.
3. Duke is a better school than your alma mater. Let’s face it, Duke’s a damn good school. There’s a really good chance that you wouldn’t have gotten in if you applied. What’s worse than losing to a school full of people smarter than you? It’s like being beaten up by a nerd.
4. Coach K isn’t warm and fuzzy. Coach Krzyzewski (see, I can spell it) is a pretty intense guy. He takes everything seriously and rarely lets down his guard. He’s no Bobby Knight or Gary Williams, but he certainly isn’t Pete Gillen or Jim Valvano either. His intense, direct attitude can easily come off as arrogance. And frankly, that’s probably not a misperception, as you have to be arrogant to be that good at something.
5. Duke has had lots of good white guys. There’s no player more hated than the other team’s white guy. I don’t know why this is true, but it is. Those little scrappy point guards on the other team (and they’re always refered to as scrappy, as if that’s a good thing. Didn’t Scrappy Doo kill that adjective for good?) are always detestable. Think about Duke – Hurley, Laettner, Wojo, Collins, Parks, Newton and now Redick. Obnoxious players all. The really killer part is that Hurley, Laettner and Redick were (are) all damn good.
So, there you have it. Five key reasons. There are probably more, but they are all offshoots of these five. What they all boil down to is jealousy. Petty jealousy. You (and I) wish it were your school winning all those games, getting on TV all those times, compared to Ivy League schools, coached by an intense winner and represented by scrappy (and good) white guys.
So, quit your whining and get over it. Duke is a great program which does things the right way. They’ve won at an incredible clip over the last 20 years without a whiff of scandal. Duke players are generally polite and articulate (I’ll allow a few exceptions, like for Tauntay Jones). They graduate on time. They play an attractive brand of basketball. You don’t have to like them – you probably have your own team already – but there’s no need for the hatred.