Over the years that I have been following Duke Basketball it surprises me how popular it is to so intensely dislike the coach, team, school. On a business trip in the mid 1980’s I was taken for a drive around the Duke campus as part of a general sightseeing tour. The tour was something a wholesale sales rep would do with a supplier rep, (me), when they did not bother to make good appointments for the day, and needed to kill time. Nonetheless, I was enthralled with the beauty of the place. North Carolina owns a bounty of Nature’s gifts of enjoying the outdoors. Duke took advantage of this in how they created the flow of the campus and placed the architecture within the wooded and landscaped environment they occupy. So, the place is special. With it, they created an educational complex to bring a stream of some of the elite minds of the world to a higher level of understanding and contribution. Tell me that’s not why folks dislike Duke. We need these people in the world for our own progress and well being. Is it then, because Duke often wins at basketball? We live in a world where excellence can be cheered by some and jeered by others.
As play wore down in a recent “sweet sixteen” NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament game between Oregon and Duke, it was obvious Duke had no prayer to win. Seconds were winding down against an insurmountable lead by Oregon, who had really played sensationally. So the floor relaxed, players standing with arms at their side, in an act of sportsmanship. Then an Oregon player at the final seconds tosses in a totally uncontested three point goal. Only reason to do that was to create the hot dog moment and message of we beat you we beat you bad. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski had words with the player in the post game lineup, telling him he was too good a player to lower himself with that type of needless play.
This has nothing to do with our RV experience of course but the press jumped all over Coach K citing how inappropriate it was to chastise the play of another team’s player. Well, Coach K’s words were about integrity. The integrity of the college basketball game. I think that is why I have come to enjoy it so much. My young soccer playing granddaughters line up opposite the other team at the end of games and slap hands and say “good game”. College basketball teams do the same thing. You win you get to say good play to the opposing players, you lose you have to say the same thing. Hot dogging does not work in College B-ball play. It is a hard lesson for some, but it is a good lesson. I was glad to see it was held up.