A few weeks back, I was G-chatting with my fellow blog-mate Zeke, after he had made the following comment about Duke in his South Regional Breakdown on BvB: “Like most of the country, I’ll still be rooting for them to lose as soon as possible.” I took exception to this, acknowledging that, while Duke was undoubtedly still roundly despised, their 6 years away from the post-season spotlight had surely mitigated the breadth, if not the intensity, of anti-Duke sentiment.
It appears that I was wrong. Extremely, very, unequivocally wrong.
As soon as we poked our pointy blue domes through the transom of the Final Four, it was carte blanche for every hater imaginable to unleash the vitriol that, rather than diminishing in intensity over the intervening interegnum, had increased in virility to an astonishing degree. I think rather than dissapating the hatred, the last 6 years had merely lulled the haters into quiescence. Without the proper fuel, their loathing could do naught but slow-burn. All it needed was the gas soaked pile of sawdust that is a Duke Final Four appearance to explode into life.
Back were the cries of “Duke gets all the calls!” (just Google this phrase; it’s amazing), back were the conspiracy theorists, back were the K haters, and back were the name callers. And back in full force were the all-out, spite-filled,venom-mongers, like this prick.
It was my original intent to write an article explicating the wherefores of the intensity of this national hate-fest. I was going to talk about the “Yankee/Patriot factor” which can be summed up epigrammatically by the following: If they hate you, you’re probably beating them (or its converse: If they like you, they’re probably beating you. No one hates Northwestern, after all). I was going to talk about the Notre Dame type media-saturation that has arisen as the result of said winning, and how it has engendered a surfeit of all things Duke for many across the country. I was going to mention that repeated NCAA basketball post-season success (unlike some other sports) means that you are ruining the post-season for 5 or 6 teams every year, and that’s a lot of fans to have pissed off at you after making the Final Four 10 out of 19 years. I was going to address the perception of Duke as an elitist, largely racially homogenous school and how the team often gets viewed in exactly the same light. I was going to talk about the sometimes caustic, brilliant, insanely polarizing Coach K and how his hard-edged style has won him a lot of hatred ( and national championships) over the years.
I was going to talk about all of these things until, at some point in the last two days, it just started to seem like the to-hate-or-not-to-hate-Duke media blitz had reached such a level of supersaturation that I just didn’t feel like contributing to the morass. Also, I realized that none of this is new or different in any way and has been recycled about a bajillion times in the K era. Articles about this stuff are just de rigeur at this point, as is the hatred. Just look at this article from our last trip to the Final Four 6 years ago and you’ll see that nothing’s changed. It’s all been hated on (and defended) before and will all be hated on (and defended) again.
So bring it on, haters, ‘cause all those reams of smack I’m seeing must mean Duke’s in the Final Four again.
I am suddenly reminded of the sign that my friend and I always joke about making and taking with us to NCAA and ACC tournament games, after years of getting booed and rooted against by anyone not wearing Duke blue. It says simply : ‘F*** You All.’ You know, one of these days soon, I might just make that thing.