As long as Duke is a part of college basketball, then fans of college basketball will find a way to hate Duke. That’s the legacy (aside from those whole five championships, countless NBA Draft picks and hundreds and hundreds of wins) of Coach K. And what a legacy it has produced, from Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley to J.J. Redick and The Plumlees. Nobody is “just okay” with Duke. The Blue Devils elicit an emotion one way or the other, and the most prominent one way is through hatred.
Spare the fact that the past few years of Duke teams barely even resemble the constantly moving target of what the face of Duke derision actually used to be. Anyone preconditioned to have smoke come out of their ears when they see blue and white or hear the name Krzyzewski isn’t about to lose sleep over any sort of inconsistency.
If that hate isn’t turning to smiles any time soon, that means next year’s season will undoubtedly bring about new vessels to despise. And the most likely candidate had a heck of an audition tape during the National Championship, unfairly or not.
Say hello to Grayson Allen. He doesn’t deserve to be hated, but because he plays for Duke you’re probably not going to be able to stand him anyway. In honor of how Laettner’s 30 For 30 was outlined, the rationale has been divided into five categories: privilege, white, bully, greatness and looks. Let’s see how Allen stacks up.
Allen grew up a Duke fan in Jacksonville. He played his high school ball at Providence, a private Christian prep school that costs just over $11,000 per year. He was part of this generation’s rise of club and travel teams, and constantly played both soccer and basketball.
His mother, Sherry, said that Grayson was such a relentless competitor that he tried to do everything at the highest possible level every chance that he got. But camps and practices and travel and club teams in both sports stacked up.
Something had to give, and it wound up being soccer, a sport Allen had played since he was 3.
“As he got older, he was starting to do travel teams. He played in fifth grade, this little rec basketball league, Upward, and he liked it,” Sherry said. “He played more and liked it even more. It got to the point where we had to say, ‘You can’t do two sports. It’s too much on you. You have to pick.’ ”
There’s some privilege here, but just as Laettner’s was (likely) blown out of proportion a little bit because of the prep school plus Duke combo, it’ll be tough for people to have sympathy for Allen if only because he has that Blue Devils name on his uniform.
Grayson Allen is white. You’ve got me there. His name is also Grayson. People seem to think he looks like other white people for some reason, and you saw a lot of that on Monday night. Everyone was very excited to point out that he is white and that his name is Grayson.
This is something Grayson Allen has no control over and is probably a dumb reason to hate him. Grayson Allen is just a person like other people are just people. But again, he plays for Duke, so that’s enough rationale for most people.
Allen doesn’t really act like a bully at all, even if his nickname is Deebo after the guy from Friday. If anything, he’s a guy who should be a star following the title game the same way Malcolm Butler became an overnight celebrity following his interception in the Super Bowl to seal the Patriots win over the Seahawks. This kid waited his turn, sat the bench, and became a role player despite being one of the best players in the 2015 class. When he came in, he produced but never dominated the ball.
His 16 points in the championship were a perfect example of this. Some came off nice cuts or from a good pass. Others on hard takes. The rest on athletic moves. Following the game, according to Eamonn Brennan of ESPN.com, Allen said, “I never had a takeover mentality. I just wanted to stay aggressive. [My teammates] kept telling me, ‘Keep going, keep going, keep taking it.'”
There’s still time for him to evolve into a bully. If Duke’s star trio of Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones go pro, especially with Quinn Cook graduating as well, someone’s going to have to be the guy. That guy could be Allen. I mean, he can do this: