Growing up in upstate NY I naturally became a Syracuse fan. However, it was not enough. I noticed on occasion some of the players were not giving there all. This frustrated me. Later on I became an Illinois fan (in addition to being a Syracuse fan) back when Kenny Battle and Kendall Gill were teammates. They were losing at the time, but it was the togetherness and effort of their play that attracted me so much. I also admired Loyola Marymount and the bond between Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble. I respected Duke for awhile too for the consistent greatness.
It was not until 1994 when my company gave away Duke tickets in a drawing. I had moved to the area less than a year ago and needed to decide on a team to root for. It was between NC State, Carolina, and Duke. Being a Buffalo Bills fan, I gravitated toward Carolina or Duke, if you know what I mean. The lady that won the tickets was not interested and knew I was a basketball fan so she gave them to me. I was very excited. I had less than an hour to get from RTP to Cameron Indoor Stadium, a placed I had never been too. With some basic directions I somehow found it in time for the tip-off. I was in awe and just tried to soak in as much as I could. I saw Grant Hill, the Cameron Crazies, Coach K, and the banners. Resistance was futile.
After winning their 4th National Championship, I took a step back and analyzed why I so enjoy watching Duke play. It all comes back to the common denominator, Coach K. The effort, the passion, the character, the bond between the players, coaches, and fans, and the results. The American Express commercial years back was perfect. With video of three former players on the bench next to him, he equips his players for life, and he uses basketball as a tool to do it. He states, “ I want you to develop as a player, I want you to develop as a student, and I want you to develop as a human being. My life is not about playing games...” After notched his 800th career win at Duke, Coach K stated, "Duke has afforded me an opportunity to recruit great kids. The kind of kids that I feel really comfortable coaching at a high caliber. You're better able to form a team with kids who have good character." I couldn't agree more.
The often overlooked aspect of Duke's success, is Carolina. Proverb 27:17 says, Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Duke and Carolina make each other better. I played a lot of different sports growing up, and whenever I played someone better, I got better. As a Duke fan, I desire Carolina to succeed, to a point of course. The better Carolina is the better Duke will be. Losing Harrison Barnes did hurt, but he will help Duke get better. I desire the whole ACC conference to do well, this will not only push the players, but the coaches. As strange as this may sound, Carolina is not the enemy. They are a friend. I believe this is a healthy and beneficial way of looking at the rivalry. On the court it's war, but after it should be peace, friendship, and lots of joking around. When I played one-on-one with my friends, we went at it, we played aggressive, but fair with no malicious intent. So have you hugged a Carolina fan today? OK maybe that's going too far.
<devildeac> anyone playing drinking games by now?
7:49:36<Wander> drink every qb run?
7:49:38<loran16> umm, drink every time asack rushes?
7:49:38<wolfybeard> @devildeac: drink when Asack runs a keeper
7:49:39 PM<CB&B> any time zack runs, drink
Carolina Delenda Est