A Letter to My Dog, Half Pint

This last year may have been the worst one of my life, but at least I've got the world's two greatest dogs by my side to help me stagger into 2018. Today's post features a letter to Half Pint. Benjamin will be getting a letter later this week--he'd never let me hear the end of it, otherwise. Also, this posts features a lot of short video clips of Half Pint being silly. Since I apparently can't do anything right these days, they are exclusively shot in vertical mode. Please accept my apologies (and cut me some friggin' slack).

Justified Sports Hatred: Duke

(photo @ mascotsinreview)

When I was growing up in Georgia, I had no idea that I would end up at the University of Kentucky until my senior year of high school. My blue blood transfusion, however, was not a very difficult procedure. I had always been a fan of basketball (NCAA and NBA) and had followed Georgia Tech casually during my days in Atlanta.

But even during this time following an ACC team, I had never felt the need to hate Duke. When I first arrived at the University of Kentucky, I was welcomed with open arms, a music scholarship, and a mandate that I should hate the Duke Blue Devils with every fiber of my being.

The message was  crystal clear 
once we crossed the state line.

When I dared to ask "Why do we hate Duke so much?", I was severely beaten and made to ride out of town with a bag over my head while on a horse afflicted with severe dementia.

Fortunately, I was able to return in time for classes to start...and to learn why it was that the bluegrass state and many others absolutely despised the Dookies.

To be honest, I privately (and very silently) thought it was almost exclusively due to jealousy over Duke's high level of success at basketball.  What I came to discover during my college years and beyond was that while jealousy may be an ingredient, Duke hatred is far more pure and righteous than I ever could have ever imagined.  It was so bad in fact that when my dad recently reminded me that I owned a Christian Laettner jersey from when he played for the Atlanta Hawks....

....okay....go ahead and laugh.
Get it out of your system...

...as I was saying, when my dad asked me if I still wanted the jersey, I told him in no uncertain terms to burn it.  The following are a few of the many reasons why hating Duke is infused into mine and many other college basketball fan's DNA.

1.  Duke gets calls and they flop worse than a soccer team.

-Preemptive counter argument:  No they don't!  That's just the haters that don't like our fundamental, throwback style of basketball!

'Traveling' in basketball is a violation that occurs when the player holding the ball illegally moves one or both of his feet. In this 2009 game against Wake Forest, Duke did not seem to be aware of this rule. Fortunately for them, neither did the refs. While I'm not completely sold on this uploader's count of 12 steps, I personally counted at least 6.

Admittedly, that one was pretty subtle. Let's take a look at this game from 2009 against Virginia Tech. Near the end and with the score still close, Duke's Jon Scheyer is somehow able to miraculously move his feet and entire body multiple times right in front of a ref without a call being made. Even the announcers can't believe what they are seeing.

Here is one of my all time favorites: Kyle Singler receives a slight bump from FSU's Chris Singleton. This causes him to flail his arms about like a tool and hurl himself to the floor, getting the foul call and some heart warming sympathy from Dick Vitale.

Speaking of flopping, Duke has made it into an art form...most of the time. They were even recognized for their ability/willingness to do it CONSTANTLY by Sports Illustrated. Here are a couple of my favorite unsuccessful attempts.

First up, we have Greg Paulus mistiming his flop about 2 weeks before anyone gets near him (laugh track not mine, but still very appropriate):

Next up is one of my favorite moves that is still being used in the NBA by JJ Redick himself:  The Duke After Shot Leg Kick.

By the way, in case it wasn't readily apparent from that last clip, JJ Redick is a punk. Watch here as he completely goes MMA on a guy just for being in the way of him falling down. Unfortunately, I could not find the result of the call, but Dick Vitale seems more amused and proud of Redick than anything (which is a nice lead in to our next point).

2.  The media loves Duke and is not afraid of letting it show.

-Preemptive Counter Argument:  Keeping dreaming!  The media only seems to love us because we are always so good.  What else are they going to report?  

Well, you are correct in saying that Duke is usually good. In fact, I'm surprised that even though they are consistently a top 10 team, ESPN can still write articles about how the team is flying "under the radar" when they are ranked #3 in the nation.

However, I do think this one gets overblown...with one major exception: Dick Vitale, who praises Duke even when he is calling a game that doesn't involve the Blue Devils.

By the way, Dick Vitale doesn't care if you get tired of him talking about Duke, he's going to do it anyway.

3.  The NCAA favors Duke.

Preemptive Counter Argument:  Oh shut up Kentucky fan!  That's total bull and you know it!

No, it's not.

Let's take out the things that are hard to prove as facts...like that Duke always gets favorable NCAA tournament seeding.

Let's also leave aside things that look shady, but can't be proven...like a recruit's mom miraculously getting a high paying job at a Duke booster owned money management firm.

Let's just deal with facts...and Corey Maggette. In 1997, high school basketball star Maggette received cash payments totaling $2,000 from a summer basketball coach named Myron Piggie. That same year, Maggette signed with Duke.

In 2000, a federal grand jury in Missouri handed down an 11-count indictment of Piggie, which detailed payments made by him directly to Maggette. By NCAA rues, the payments should have compromised Maggette's amateur status. 

Maggette initially denied receiving any money. Later that year, however, Magette and Piggie admitted under oath that money changed hands from coach to player. The entire report by Dan Wetzel (which is an excellent read) can be found here.

There's just one problem, though.  Wetzel's article was written in 2004. The admission of guilt happened in 2000...and the NCAA had done absolutely nothing by that point.  

When NCAA spokesperson Monica Lunderman was asked about this, she replied:

"We don't have any information on that. The NCAA does not provide comment concerning "ongoing investigations."

Lunderman then yelled 
"LOOK!  IT'S CTHULU!" and ran out of the room.

What the heck were they still investigating? The guilty parties had already confessed.  

Maybe they were trying to work out whether or not Duke needed to be punished since Maggette took the money before he was enrolled at Duke.  

But the NCAA already has a rule about that--if a teams plays an athlete that is not eligible...even if they didn't know about it...and even if the NCAA cleared that player to go to enroll... "strict liability" will still be enforced. Playing an ineligible player means that the wins, banners, and championships from the years they were at the school are all vacated.

This is exactly what the NCAA did to Memphis for playing Derrick Rose. Rose was alleged to have cheated on his SATs, but it was never proven. Still, Memphis was forced to vacate it's Final Four appearance and all wins from that year. Duke, on the other hand, still has it's banner flying and its wins from Corey Maggette's year at the school in the record books.

In this great follow up piece by Gary Parrish, the NCAA is quoted as saying that there was insufficient evidence that Magette "knew or should have known" that he was taking money...even though he admitted to doing so while under oath in federal court.

No Consistency At All

4.  Duke's fans are lame.

Preemptive counter argument:  What?!  The Cameron Crazies are the best fans in basketball!  At least, that's what my cheer sheet tells me to say...

Yes, the cheer sheets, little slips of paper given to all the students so they know what to say and when to say it. That's pretty ridiculous in and of itself, but at least it has the potential to be creative. The actual cheers however, are normally pretty stupid.

But at least being lame isn't as bad as being an elitist jerk. When Elton Brand decided to leave Duke early to go into the NBA, he received this letter (posted in the link above) from Duke student Jennifer Taylor:

From: Taylor, Jennifer
Sent: Friday, April 16, 1999 2:55 PM
To: Brand, Elton
Subject: Leaving Duke
I graduated from Duke last May and just wanted to express my disgust for your decision to leave the Duke program after only two years. As an alum, not only do I hold the school in high regard, but the basketball program as well, especially since both have deservedly garnered such a great deal of respect for their accomplishments.
As part of our basketball program, you represent Duke as a whole. We are first and foremost an academic school, you clearly did not belong at Duke in the first place if this was the extent of your commitment to Duke and a college education in general. You have not only insulted the current students who are putting in four years at a school they love, but also the thousands of alumni who have realized the value of a Duke education and what an honor and privilege it was to be there for four years.
If you do not realize the opportunity you has infront of you to play for Coach K and at the same time attain a Duke diploma, then that is certainly your loss. I just wish that you has spared us the notion that you were continuing in the tradition of being a Duke student-athlete, in emphasizing excellence in both academics and athletics. You will not be considered part of the Duke family, in my mind as well as many others. You have by no means proved yourself worthy of that title.
Jennifer Taylor

Brand's response was very telling...and priceless:

Thank you very much, for reminding me of the reason why I left Duke. People like you can not and will not ever understand my situation. I'm sure daddy worked very hard to send your rich self to college. While real people struggle. I would also like to extend an invitation for you not to waste your or my time ever agin. Never being considered a part of your posh group of yuppies really hurts me to the heart. Yeah, right. Because I don't care about you or your alumni.

Sincerely, Elton Brand #42 NBA

5.  Christian Laettner

Yeah so I liked him when he was with the Hawks.  That was before I was shown the following video.  No, not "the shot".  It's the one where he purposefully stomps on Kentucky player Aminu Timberlake...and shows absolutely no remorse for it years later.  

Happy Duke hating everyone...and Dad, please make sure that you've burned that jersey by the time I come for my next visit.

Please also feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.  

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