Duke Basketball

USA Today

Dear Duke Haters

I have some horrible news for you.

November 07, 2018 - 9:16 am
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Dear Duke Haters, all you folks who grew up hating Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley, who grew strong in your rage against floor-slapping and Cherokee Parks. All you people who managed to find ways to dislike Elton Brand, Shane Battier, and Trajan Langdon. Everyone who hated JJ Redick, Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler, and Austin Rivers…I have some horrible news for you. 

And it comes in the form of one Zion Williamson.

If you’ve ever spent any time on basketball YouTube or Instagram, you saw one clip after another of Zion dunking on helpless defenders in high school gyms. 

You knew this storm was coming. But that storm broke on Kentucky last night and it broke Kentucky last night.  

Before last night, maybe you knew this set of numbers:

6 foot 7 inches, 285 pounds, a wingspan of 6 foot ten. Right now, he would be the second-heaviest player in the NBA. Oh, and here’s another fact: 45 inch vertical leap. Yes, forty-five. 

He would be the second heaviest player in the NBA and he can dunk from the foul line. 

He’s a created player in NBA2K. He is the perfect player for the modern NBA and he’s playing in college. 

I’m not going to bother with comparisons to other players, because anyone who makes those comparisons will sound insane. You will be comparing him to players that nobody should ever be compared to, but trust me, those comparisons fit. 

Especially when you see moments like this from the first half.

THROW IT DOWN, BIG MAN!

Forget about Zion wearing a mouthguard, everyone else on the court should be wearing helmets. Because someone’s going to make the mistake of being in his path or near the rim when he dunks and he’s going to put them IN THE GROUND!

And yes, every arena in the ACC better do a quick safety check and install a few more bolts in their backboards, because one of them is coming down this year.  

Here’s another set of numbers: 28 points on 11-for-13 shooting, seven rebounds, two assists, and one steal. And one of the most disrespectful blocks you’ll ever see.

I’m not sure he blocked that shot or just ripped it out of the sky and started the fast break and then had the assist to finish it off. 

I don’t have time for all the highlights, so let me just say this: he did not come to take part. He came to take over. 

And worse yet for the Duke haters, Zion is not alone. He wasn’t even the highest scorer on the team last night. That honor went to RJ Barrett, who had 33 points to go along with six assists. And all Cam Reddish did was put up 22 points and four steals.

I would never compare any team to Alabama Football, but last night, Duke Basketball was Alabama Football in blue shorts. They were that dominant. 

They got to 100 points with 7 and a half minutes left. And this wasn’t some body bag game. This wasn’t a buy game against a directional school. This was against KENTUCKY. The bluest of the blue bloods left with a black eye. 

Notice I haven’t said the final score yet. That’s no accident. It was brutal and graphic in nature.

Duke: 118
Kentucky: 84

That was the alleged number four team in the country beating the number two team in the country, by 34. And it could’ve been so much worse. Duke could’ve named its score. And they did it against another elite team. 

This isn’t about a national title. This is about something bigger than that. This is about being the most entertaining, jaw-dropping team since Anthony Davis was at Kentucky. And maybe even further back than that. 

It’s only one game and injuries happen, but this crew could be iconic. We’re talking Fab Five or Larry Johnson’s UNLV teams. And that’s the thing – it’s not about handing them a title right now. This is bigger than a title. The Fab Five never won a title, but they are legendary. That’s what this Duke team could be. A team that gives you a “where were you when” feeling every time they step on the floor. 

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t watch college basketball until March, change that plan STAT. Because you are going to be missing out on something special. One game in and Zion is the greatest thing I’ve seen in college basketball in years.