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Thursday is a good day to hate Duke

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Well, you know I really don't hate anyone.  But here at A Sea of Blue, we like to occasionally take a few good-humored shots at the Indigo Diablos, one of the few schools we really care about playing thanks to the famous 1992 overtime classic that was, more than anything else, responsible for the Unforgettables' jerseys hanging in Rupps' rafters.

Spencer Hall, known throughout most of the Blogosphere as Orson Swindle of Every Day Should Be Saturday (EDSBS), has taken on the pithy subject of why people hate Duke over at his Sporting News blog.  I thought I would share some commentary on this article, and solicit some commentary from our faithful members.

Spencer starts out by telling us that, for the most part, he doesn't have an opinion of Duke:

(Full disclosure: I don't feel anything toward Duke until they start flopping, and then -- as I do with the Italian national soccer team -- I start rooting against them like a spectator at a Roman gladiator match, screaming for blood with my thumb down.
This is a relatively recent reason to dislike Duke.  All college basketball teams flop, but Duke has taken the act to an entirely new level.  In fact, Duke's flopping has created an entire YouTube genre.  Just check it out here, and get in a few laughs.

So flopping is Spencer's big motivator to Duke loathing.  What about other reasons?  Spencer says that 40% of Duke haters are motivated by the fact that Duke is a good team:
Forty percent: Because they're really, really good. No one hates bad teams, because life already punishes them. The Yankees are despised; the Pittsburgh Pirates are not. Only good teams attract the kind of searing hatred Duke attracts, and the Blue Devils' three national championships and ten ACC titles qualify them as very, very good.
I think this is largely true.  Duke has been very good for the last 15 years or so, and he is right on the mark about the Yankees and similarly successful teams (even our beloved UK) being hated because they are (or in our case, more past tense) very good.  He goes on to mention "brand fatigue" (Coach K commercials, anyone?) and rooting against the favorite.

The next reason?  Spencer says 25% hate Dick Vitale:
Twenty-five percent: Dukie V. Dick Vitale does Duke no favors by breaking the hyperbole machine when he calls Blue Devils games. Not a single detail fails to merit a mike-breaking phrase from Vitale -- not Coach K's hairstyle, or the freshman wunderkind working the point for the Blue Devils, or the enthusiasm of Duke fans ... Nothing avoids the exaggerated paintbrush of the man deservedly tagged Dukie V.
I think most people want to like Dick Vitale, but hate his bizarre, never-ending hyperbole about Duke and Bob Knight.  I have grown so incredibly fatigued of hearing Vitale talk about those two subjects, it's all I can do to keep myself from hunting for stray cats to kill every time I hear the words "Duke" or "Robert Mont ..." come out of Vitale's mouth.  I swear, if I were sitting behind him at the game and heard him broach either of those subjects, I would be blogging from Lagrange prison.

Continuing on, Spencer suggests that 20% hate the Indigo Diablos because of their flopping:
Twenty percent: Le Floppeurs. The collection of skilled but theatrical players at the forefront of the Duke brand haven't abated the mass antipathy toward the Blue Devils. The biggest problem: their tendency to flop, flop and flop again in the paint.
Yeah, this bugs me, but more because the refs don't call obvious flops a technical foul, as the rules suggest they should.  Trying to draw a charge is a time-honored defensive tradition, and I don't begrudge the Indigo Diablos, or any other team for that matter, the right to hold their ground and take it in the chest.  But if you look at some of the videos at the link I provided earlier, you will see why it is so offensive to some people.

The next reason, according to Hall, that Duke is loathed is because of their economic status:
Fifteen percent: They're smart and rich. College basketball is full of the privileged -- in what other huge collegiate spectator sport could Princeton field a competitive team? -- but Duke earns particular scorn for being the elite private school that can actually win national titles. Root for a Princeton, and lose nothing since they will likely bounce out of the first or possibly the second round. Root for a Duke, and not only will the bench rider likely get a lucrative job after graduation: he may get a championship ring, too. No one likes a glutton.
I have never understood this.  Class warfare is really unbecoming of anyone, and loathing someone with money or privilege just makes no sense to me.  But I do understand that some people are very jealous of such things, and that is a simple fact of life.  So be it.

We Kentucky fans loathe Duke more for a singular event than any other reason -- The Stomp.  Now, I have already discussed my perceptions of the 1992 struggle, and Laettner's unfortunate actions, so I won't reprise that here.  But make no mistake, The Stomp embodies all the reasons (except Dicke V.) above, plus the obvious disdain Laettner had toward Aminu Timberlake and disrespect toward Kentucky's entire team and rolls it up into a neat little package with a bow on top.  The Stomp is the reason I dislike Duke, and not just that team.  Duke fans, for the most part, are entirely unapologetic about that particular breakdown of sportsmanship, and surprisingly many are downright proud of it.  It's tough to respect such classlessness, no matter how much time has passed.

But we also should remember Coach K seeking out the retiring Cawood Ledford and telling him what a great game Kentucky played.  No matter how fatigued I am with some of Krzyzewski's antics and the constant siege he presents to my eyes from the TV screen, I will never forget that class act.  It was special, and extraordinary, and almost nothing he can do can take away that memory.