I am wrapping up my honeymoon this week but have been giving this post over to the people closest to me in life. Some of them are UK fans and some of them are not but they all know about this site and I am excited to give them their chance to write a post. Everybody has that topic that they just love to talk (or write) about, even if it comes from our rivals. Today, I gave my one and only Duke friend, Andrew, the chance to explain himself. I think you’ll enjoy this piece and maybe, just maybe, have the slightest respect for a Duke fan:
I can remember vividly sitting in my parents living room watching the (in)famous Duke-UK 1992 East Regional Final. I was 6 years old and was a loud and proud UK fan. I can remember Christian Laettner hitting the miraculous shot… I can remember feeling my heart tore out… And I can remember pledging a life-long hatred for Duke. All of this hatred changed the following fall when my brother started his freshman semester at Duke University. At first, it was weird to have your brother attend the institution that ripped your heart out just a few months earlier. Throughout his college career, my hatred toward Duke morphed into fandom and I have been a Duke fan ever since.
All that being said, it was a lonely experience cheering for Pantone 287 (the blue associated with Duke) instead of Pantone 286 (the blue associated with UK). While many of my friends wore Tony Delk and Jamal Mashburn jerseys, I wore Grant Hill and Bobby Hurley jerseys (I even had Hurley’s short-lived ITZ [In The Zone] shoes… what I wouldn’t give to have those shoes now!).
Throughout my years, I’ve decided that UK fans have long memories of hatred for Duke, both for Laettner’s stomp and for the coach with a mousy look and an obvious dye-job. However, if there’s anything that I’ve learned throughout my 32 years in this great Commonwealth, it’s that there are undertones of respect for a program that has pretty much done it the right way. Most anyone I speak with will admit that they respect Coach K and most anyone I speak with feels that Duke players are players that, had they gone to UK, they would have gladly cheered for. This mirrors my feelings towards UK; a coach that has (while at UK) built a brand that is only equaled by that of Duke and players that are only equaled by that of Duke. I even give Coach Cal credit for helping change Coach K’s stance on recruiting one-and-dones.
The duality of rivalries is built both on hatred for the other program and undertones of respect for that very program. I both dislike UK and appreciate the very fact that the rare Duke-UK matchup is what makes college basketball great… something that is only replicated by the likes of the Red Sox/Yankees in baseball, and Michigan/Ohio State and Auburn/Alabama in college football.
I look forward to the next Duke/UK matchup. Until that time, GO BLUE DEVILS!