It’s Better to be Hated… If You Play College Basketball.

Think about five college basketball players that you hated while they were in college.

Did you think of five?… Was it all that tough?… Wasn’t for me.

Aaron Craft, Anthony Davis, Greg Oden, Joakim Noah and Mason Plumlee.

Now, think of five college basketball players you love.

Cody Zeller, Blake Griffin, Frank Kaminsky, Kevin Durant, Harrison Barnes.

Was it harder or easier to come up with the loved list?… In most cases an argument can be made that the hated were easier to recall than the loved players between the two lists. Why would that be? Could it be because we as sports fans tend to remember who we hate easier than those we love when it comes to college basketball?

Lately, a lot of scrutiny has came back on Duke University for their continued role over the past 30 years as NCAA Basketball’s villains. Most recently, the tail ended arrow of hatred points back to Grayson Allen, a Dukie who has portrayed more than just your typical Duke basketball antics in the 2015-16 season, almost as if he’s attempting to break the record for the “Blue Devil of the Month” award. Here are a couple of his infamous highlights.

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Need I say more? Minus the fact that he’s the poster child for a Duke villain (they are typically white, over rated, come off as spoiled and they win) and there are plenty of motives one would have of hating a Grayson Allen type.

When you think of what Grayson Allen does it’s clear what he’s accomplishing. He’s getting under his opponent’s skin. Not only does he purposefully trip a player but then he goes and helps them up to make it seem like he’s the good guy. He’s like Angelica from the 90’s Nickelodeon TV show “Rugrats”. Angelica would pick on Tommy and the other babies but as soon as the parents of the show came snooping around she would turn into the halo child who acted sweet. Allen does the same with the refs and it irritates us who see the replays at home, but essentially he is cementing himself as that Duke player we can’t get out of our head. Soon, he will make that list of college players we hate and let us not forget that the hatred list is easier to remember than the loved list. Is going about it this way really all that wrong?

Let’s look at this realistically. Is it not better to be a Grayson Allen? An Anthony Davis? A Joakim Noah? Is it not better to be the villain? Is it not better to be hated? When it comes to college basketball and the criteria a typical hated athlete carries, it definitely is.

Duke’s history of villainous timelines makes becoming the next in line almost as if he joins a fraternity.

The past college basketball demons of Duke represented through players like Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, Carlos Boozer, J.J. Riddick, Jay Williams,  and Plumlee all led by the ultimate Blue Devil figure of Coach Mike Krzyzewski have became the statues that we have come to know as the reasons to hate the Duke Blue Devils. The thing is, I don’t think they would want it any other way.

A band of villains almost seems more welcoming than being an isolated hero.

When you’re loved in college basketball you fall under different representations. You’re typically the underdog, under rated and a hope for an American dream. Luckfully, those that fall under those descriptions have a platform to build off of thanks to the Cinderella story lines that can be created in the NCAA tournament. But, unlike the sturdy built mountains the villains of the NCAA mount, those platforms for beloved ballers are built on soggy cardboard. Like most lessons learned in college, things are forgotten a week after they are established, just think of all those Shakespeare lines from Hamlet we can’t remember. Speaking of things we can’t remember let’s think back on some of the most popular beloved college stars that flopped; Adam Morrison, Jimmer Fredette, Royce White. Honestly, do we even remember one name from the “Dunk City” mania that represented the 2013 roster of Florida Gulf Coast?

Sure being the darling of the NCAA world has some perks but when you think of how quickly that rug can be pulled from under you compared to the relativity of being a hated NCAA star, doesn’t the latter seem a little more appealing?

Not too mention, If you’re hated you’re probably winning.

We hate Duke frankly because we are sick of seeing them win. We want to see them knocked off every year in March, no mater how badly it screws up our brackets because it feels like they win it every year. in the past quarter century the Devils have found themselves in the Final Four eight times and five times have ended up cutting down the nets as the Nation’s Champs. (1) Most the time if you’re a beloved NCAA name you don’t end up winning in the long-haul. Usually the run comes to an end in the sweet sixteen round or elite eight. Kemba Walker and UCONN’s run in 2011 is an exception to this point and not the only one, but the list is much shorter than the list of those hated who can put on their basketball resumes “National Champion”. And their is much longer list of common ground for those who can put that on their basketball resumes that can also markdown Duke University as their Alma mater.

So yes, we hate players like Laettner and Reddick and Allen. Yes, it’s because they’re obnoxious. Yes, it’s because they come off as entitled. But you can’t argue, they each backed it up with wins and trophies. However, this continued way of winning and doing so efficiently further envelopes a highly obnoxious stigma we associate to Duke that can’t be ignored. That stigma is represented through their players and coach that we have grown to hate.And what makes us the maddest of all of the, “Why not join Duke?” arguments is knowing that at the end of the year they’re probably going to win and we’ll have nothing we can say about it and you can’t blame a person for wanting to do that, no matter how hard you try.

Another thing we dislike about the Blue Devils is that have a tendency to only be disruptive to the game and not society. And you are correct, you read that right!

Duke’s bad publicity doesn’t exists off the court. Sure, Allen can be seen as a dirty player ON-THE-COURT! Another element to the Duke villain is that they keep their hair short and their nose clean (at least while at Duke). As spectators we can’t poke at their off the court disruptances simply because we don’t know about them. Allen has done nothing off-the-court to make us bring him down to our level like we could in our society with other hated college athletes like Johnny Manziel and Cam Newton. We’re forced to live with the fact that Allen and other Duke players have simply skewed what happens within the lines of the hardwood and live with it.

The fact that the Dukies are only disruptive to the game and yet still almost alwas get away with it creates this added hatred that Allen has continued on through his on the court antics. It boils up the blood bubble of the NCAA fan to see him trip other players, watch Duke still win and then only get compensated with a suspension during later in season games that don’t have a bigger meaning. It continues the narrative that we’ve built that is the reasons to hate Duke and a Blue Devil basketball player. They’re deceptive but come off as honest and true to the people of authority somehow, making it only more fitting that they are symbolized by the hellish mascot of the Blue Devil.

But, that doesn’t negate the fact that people can have a change of feelings towards these athletes.

You can have a change of heart from hatred and come to like a Blue Devil, they just need to get their wings clipped along the lines. Some examples of this would be, Christian Laettner, who never experienced the same success or fame in the NBA as he did while at Duke. (2) Or Jay Williams who gave into temptation of alcohol and made a trail of redemption to becoming a respected NCAA analyst. (3) Or Carlos Boozer who put in 13 NBA seasons and has no ring to show for his efforts. (4)

Still, playing at Duke has a lot of perks. You win, you keep a good reputation for yourself and usually it leads to greater success in life for those that do. You could end up being one of the coveted hated bunch that this article has shed light on, but somewhere along the line you realize we’re still talking about them with relevancy even if it is in a damning light, making them immortal in a highly mortal world. Causing one to really wonder…

“Is it so bad when it comes to being a hated college basketball star?”

Sources:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_Blue_Devils_men%27s_basketball#National_Championships
  2. http://collegebasketball.nbcsports.com/2012/03/15/christian-laettners-time-since-the-shot-has-been-interesting/
  3. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/02/02/basketball-star-jay-williams-on-fighting-back-after-lifes-accidents.html
  4. http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/b/boozeca01.html

 

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