Why a Duke Hater Can’t Hate on This Duke Team

A Tar Heels fan admits why it's so hard to hate on this Duke team—and it has everything to do with his NBA allegiance.

Zion Williamson Duke UNC ACC Tournament 2019
USA Today Sports

Mar 15, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) reacts after being fouled in the second half against the North Carolina Tar Heels in the ACC conference tournament at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Zion Williamson Duke UNC ACC Tournament 2019

As a lifelong North Carolina fan, I’m supposed to hate Duke, right? I hate them like I hate the Red Sox (Yankees fan here) even though I never attended North Carolina and didn’t grow up in the state. My pops was a Tar Heels fan, so that’s what I latched onto. But even if I weren’t a UNC fan, I would most definitely still hate Duke.

But even a hater such as myself must admit: This year Duke, with its three stars—Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish, and R.J. Barrett—is harder to hate than in seasons prior.

Nonetheless, I still have considerable hatred for the Blue Devils and their supporters. I’ve hated their guts since the Christian Laettner days, all the while rooting for Grant Hill (he was always dumb nice) and Jersey City’s very own Bobby Hurley—one of my first NBA Champion replicas was Hurley’s black Sacramento Kings No. 7 jersey. I hated Shane Battier and his charges; I hated Steve Wojciechowski and his “grit”; I hated J.J. Redick’s propensity to hit an unfathomable amount of threes; I hated Grayson Allen and the way he acted like a spoiled child in the mall after purposely tripping people. I’ve hated Duke for most of my basketball-watching life. Coach K has unleashed annoying white boys on us for decades.

nstead of rooting for an embarrassing early exit for Duke, like I normally would, I’m rooting for a fourth Duke-UNC showdown for the national championship...

I think I hate Mike Krzyzewski more than I hate Duke at this point. He’s such a little shit when calls don’t go his way, and he’s a sore loser. When the Tar Heels beat Duke the first time this year, Coach K couldn’t be bothered by Roy Williams’ sympathy over Zion Williamson’s injury. He barely let Williams finish talking before he brushed him off after an embarrassing loss. Coach K is overrated. When he makes those ugly rat faces after a call doesn’t go his way, you realize he will never be Dean Smith. I mean, how great can Krzyzewski be when he couldn’t figure out how to coach this team without Zion? When Williamson was out, Duke looked like they wouldn’t even get to the Sweet 16. Dean Smith would never. It’s like they forget how to play. That’s on the $9 million coach, not the players. Coach K is supposed to inspire his guys. Now that Zion is back, everybody is back on their dicks as if they didn’t escape with their lives against Carolina in the ACC Tournament semifinals.

I love Zion with all my heart. But I want him and Coach K to fail if they play UNC again, and then I want Zion to get drafted by my NBA favorite team, which, sadly, really deserves him (the fans, not the ownership.) However, if the Tar Heels somehow fall before reaching the championship game, I’ll go back to wishing nothing but the worst when it comes to Duke.

I can’t front—this freshman class brings down Duke’s hateability a couple of notches. In fact, in addition to Zion, I’m a fan of Reddish and Barrett. Mainly because I want them to stay healthy so the Knicks can take any one of them with their top five pick in this year’s NBA Draft lottery. All three guys play together without ego. They each sacrifice their games to better complement each other. It’s always dope to see young, talented players ball for each other.

So instead of rooting for an embarrassing early exit for Duke, like I normally would, I’m rooting for a fourth Duke-UNC showdown for the national championship, first because they’ve never met in the NCAA Tournament, second because hell will freeze over if it does actually happen, and lastly because the basketball gods owe us this before college sports go to complete shit.

Zion Williamson Mike Krzyzewski Duke Florida State 2019

I’ve been watching Zion since he was at Spartanburg Day School abusing helpless white kids. And I remember everyone (myself included) wondering how he would do against guys who matched his skill set. He pretty much put all those doubts to bed in his first game, when he dropped 28 in a 34-point win against Kentucky back in November.

I really was sad when Williamson destroyed his sneaker and sprained his knee in the opening minute of his first game against UNC. I didn’t want to hear the excuses I predicted would come from the Duke fans in my orbit. One co-worker—whose name also happens to be Zion, is a Duke fan, and runs our Complex Sports social accounts—had the audacity to try to renege on a bet we made because Williamson didn’t play. When Duke beat the Heels by the skin of their teeth in the ACC tourney, all the Duke fans I knew either texted me or hit me on IG or Twitter to talk shit without any shame, as if their buttholes weren’t tight when that Coby White shot went up.

All I want in this world is for the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels to meet and cut down the nets. I want Zion to finish the year healthy and be taken No. 1 by the Knicks, but I want his time at Duke be marred by a 1-3 record against Carolina. As a Knicks fan, though, I wouldn’t see R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish as bad consolation prizes if the team can’t land the No. 1 pick. As a Tar Heels fan, I want to see Coach K lose and leave the court as salty as all hell. I want him to be so disgusted with himself that he brushes off Coach Williams like he did during their first meeting this year. Coach K has had it easy with recruiting because of his time as head coach with Team USA. His rat face is easy to hate. I want more of it! I want to see those rat teeth in the final seconds of a loss in the National Championship against the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Let us all speak this into existence. May the basketball gods be in our favor, always.

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