Let me make this clear:
I love Duke Basketball.
Hands down. In the good seasons. In the ba…wait, we really don’t have bad seasons. As I speak we’re losing to Villanova in the Sweet 16. Our current record is 30-6. Even if we leave the dance tonight, we’ll be 30-7 on the season. That is not a bad season. Unless you’re Duke. I mean, everyone loves to hate them. It doesn’t matter where people went to college or who they normally pull for, almost everyone pulls against Duke. They want them to fail and then celebrate when they “do.” Again, this is speaking as if it is a failure to end the season in the Sweet 16. It is not. Not for Duke anymore than any other team.
Now, I know that by aligning myself with these team that I am aligning myself with probably the most hated team in college basketball. They’re good, they’re smart, they’re rich, and their coach is one of the best. Of course people are going to hate them. I’m okay with that. To a point anyways. I’ll admit that it gets old having people be nasty to me because of it, but, I’ve realized that I thrive on it. I learn so many things from the way people hate on Duke. It amuses me to no end, to know that if Duke does lose tonight, that many of my friends will take absolute delight in the fact that they lost. Never mind that they made it this far. Or, that most teams are out of it by now. And if they make it farther? Well then, I’m sure it’s only because they worked the refs.
My love affair with Duke is my mother’s fault. (I know, it’s always the mother’s fault) She always had them on. And so we rooted for them together. My grandmother (Big Mama) also liked to watch Duke, although, sometimes I think she just liked watching me watch them. It’s a three generation thing, folks. It ain’t likely to change anytime soon. Some of my best memories are of cutting choir to go watch Duke with my Mom and my Big Mama. While everyone else in the family was at church we were watching (and cheering) for Duke. Now, since I started college my ability to watch every game has dwindled. I still have an affinity for Duke, but I no longer no all the stats for the players. I no longer agonize over every win or loss. But, I will always hope that they win. I will always feel a tad but morose to watch them lose.
But, I will also always be proud of what they accomplished. Win or lose, it doesn’t really matter. Each team is a new team, with new faces, new problems, new struggles, just like teams everywhere. Which is why I’m posting this now, while we’re down 16. Because, I’m still proud of them. It’s no easy task for them to have put together the run that they did to get to the Sweet 16. They won the ACC championship. They made it to the Sweet 16, everything after this is just icing on the cake. And anyone who says otherwise? They’re just being sour grapes.