My Evening with Dukies

The night began innocuously enough. I met up with my future sister-in-law’s boyfriend and his buddy at Ruth’s Chris in Chicago. After some juicy fillets had been downed, in walked Darius Miles (celebrity sighting #1). He entered with his family, not his entourage. The sighting would not have been worth mentioning if it had not been a part of what followed.

After making a few jokes about Darius’ “plump” appearance, we decided to go to a bar down the street. As we entered Rockit, we were quickly informed that Heath Ledger (celebrity #2), currently filming the new Batman movie, was in the house. Hmm, now that’s weird. First NBA also-ran Darius Miles comes across my path, and now Heath Ledger.

Curiosity got the best of us and we quickly headed over to track down Heath. Sure enough, nestled in the corner, playing pool was Mr. Brokeback himself. The man looked like he just came off Survivor Island–emaciated, dirty, and hair down to his shoulders. What is it about celebrities who feel the need to add a degree of difficulty in regards to attracting the opposite sex? This I will never understand.

Just as I was about to make a sarcastic comment about Ledger’s appearance, I glanced over my right shoulder as Chris Duhon, Shane Battier, and Mike Dunleavy sauntered by. (celebrities #3, #4, and #5) Now, I hope you are beginning to understand why I have chosen to come back from my 3-month hiatus to write this story.

This was truly unprecedented. Within a 15 minute period, I had run across five celebrities/professional athletes. Of the five, only three were together. Almost instinctively, I scanned the rest of the bar to see if any other famous people were lurking about. To my extreme surprise, Greg Maddux (celebrity #6) was playing at the pool table opposite of Heath Ledger! How was this possible. Had I entered into some some sort of celebrity purgatory? Did I uncover some sort of secret celebrity room that only they knew about? What the hell was going on?
As strange as it was that these sightings conflated in one spot; my focus could not get away from the opportunity in front of me. Now someone other than me, may have been focused on Messrs Maddux and Ledger. Not me.

Because you are reading this, you like me, would have immediately focused attention on the Dukies. Here was a golden opportunity for a Duke hater. There in all of his dented-head glory, was the object of so much angst and disgust. To me, Battier always represented the best and worst of Duke basketball. The best in that he upheld the myth that Duke players were student-athletes while everyone else in college basketball had teams filled with illiterates. Sure, Battier was a real student but so are hundreds of other kids at D-I schools. Battier was the worst (as if I need to tell you) in that he defined the preferential treatment that the Blue Devils have received during the last 25 years. Coach Krybaby had no better friend than the three referees when Shane Battier stepped on the hardwood.

I don’t think in four years at Duke did Battier ever get called for a blocking foul. I can still remember vividly hearing Mike Patrick and Dick Vitale gush over Battier’s incredible ability to draw a charge. (For the last time, I will say it for all to hear: a charge/block is a bang-bang play. It is two players hustling to the same spot. If a particular player “excels” at drawing charges, that means he/she should be successful at best 60% of the time not 95%!)

Set this against the backdrop of the 2001 Final Four. We all know what happened. Maryland, led by Lonny Baxter, rushed to a 21 point lead. And then it happened. Lonny picked up his third foul with about five minutes left in the first half. That call was dubious at best. What ensued has been celebrated as one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the NCAA Tournament. For those who know better, it was a study in why anyone with a soul hates Duke. Everyone thought Duke was supposed to win that game and the officials let that belief impact their decision-making. It cost Maryland the National Championship, and perhaps worse, gave it to Duke. I will go to my grave believing this.

Which leads my back to the poster boy. So there I am, confronted with the (Blue) Devil incarnate as it were. I calmly strode up to the man and had the following exchange:

Me: Shane I graduated from Maryland and I want to ask you a question about the 2001 Final Four

Shane (cautiously): OK

Me: It is my opinion that the Duke – Maryland game in Minneapolis was the most poorly officiated game in the history of the NCAA Tournament. Do you think that all those fouls that were called on Lonny Baxter were fair?

Shane: Yeah man, he fouled me the whole game.

Me: C’mon, it’s been six years, now is your chance to come clean. Do you really think that game was fairly called? The third foul in the first half? The fifth foul against Boozer?

Shane: Yeah, I do.

Me: That’s what I thought. Have a good night.

Now you may ask, did I actually expect Battier to come clean? Of course not. I went up to him for and every Duke hater out there. I needed to get it off my chest and damn if it didn’t make me feel better. I hope through reading this little tale, you too feel a small amount of solace.

Advertisements

21 Comments

  1. Welcome back, Jeremy. We thought you were dead. Which could have happened at that bar if Battier had been in a worse mood. You should have goaded him into touching you, then flopped backwards onto the floor and demanded a foul call. My only celebrity sighting worth reporting was sitting next to William Westmoreland on an airplane in about 1978 and asking him if Vietnam had been worth it. He said, “Sure.” I think it was a similar situation to yours–what did we expect these guys to say?

  2. Great story. I don’t know if I would have had the balls to go up to him and say that. But Kaze’s comment about flopping after him touching you was great. That may have actually made him laugh. No no, i’m wrong, people without souls don’t laugh.

  3. Kaze, Adam, et.al.,

    Thanks for sticking with me during my three-month hiatus. Moving, getting married, and work are to blame. I’m back though. Look for a chat feature that I am trying to the add for the start of the season as well.

  4. Battier is our White Whale, our Moby Dick. Jeremy is our Ahab. To have spotted the White Whale and taken a shot at him is indeed commendable. If I’m not mistaken, though, Ahab’s last shot at Moby led him to be dragged under by the great beast. Ahab still died an angry (and insane) man, angry at the whale that sunk his ship and dragged him to his own death.

    Jeremy…you better not all of the sudden feel any less hatred toward Battier just because you exposed him for being the fraud that we all know he is. If anything, his lack accountability should make you even angrier, like Ahab being dragged down to the bottom of the sea by his own harpoon angry that the whale got the best of him. Make no mistake, you left your encounter feeling like you exposed him. He left the encounter chuckling to those other Dook bastards about another crazy MD fan who can’t accept Dook’s supremacy.

    Damn it…I am so angry that I am sweating.

  5. “Look ye, Starbuck. All visible objects are but as pasteboard masks. Some inscrutable yet reasoning thing puts forth the molding of their features. The white whale tasks me; he heaps me. Yet he is but a mask. ‘Tis the thing behind the mask I chiefly hate; the malignant thing that has plagued mankind since time began; the thing that maws and mutilates our race, not killing us outright but letting us live on, with half a heart and half a lung.”

    Wheels, my hero: This thing is Duke.

  6. Welcome back Jeremy and gang.
    Let’s strike up the chat.We shouldn’t be fair-weather fans waiting till Mid-Night Madness to get our juices flowing. We all have our feelings and observations. The last round of comments on the Butler Did it, MD didn’t post were quite revealing.

    For what it’s worth….next year is very promising indeed and I agree with the comments “GW can mold these “tweeners” into a good group” or somoething like that. There seems to be a lot of
    optimism about Gist, Boom, Vas and Hayes.
    Here’s my thoughts:

    Gist- If we can get the ball to him in the right spot (s) he can “get er done”. If he can develop a consistent mid range jumper that will open things up for Boom. We can’t have Gist pumping 3’s accept when we just got to have one and no one else is open. He would be a good choice. Maryland’s “bigs” have a history of putting the ball on the floor and (obviously) losing it. Boom and others need to set picks and it seems to me we were one of the worst ACC teams at that “basic” task

    Boom- He can roll to the bucket and is difficult to stop. He made shots (some very timely) that we would 2nd guess. He has to learn to block and set picks. How his free throws go in (line drives) defies
    physics.

    (Note) Jeremy comment about Battier is right on. Our bigs have got to stop crying get the job done.

    Vas- Tremendous energy but needs to control it to get better results. Needs to develop his shots. Great that he can slash but that can be taken away if he can’t consistently hit the J.

    Hayes- He needs a few break out games like MJ. He could easily be our best 3pt threat. He could (and should) be knocking down 3-5 tre’s a game. He is quietly smart and has the best B-ball IQ on the team. We all know great guard play opens up the middle. All too often when Vas and Hayes were in there they telegraphed they were not going to shoot. It was an easy read for the defense. That has to go away.

    Conditioning- We have a history (under GW) that we are in shape and we are going to run. We won a lost of games where the other guys were drained. You could clearly see it.

    Drought’s – Too many of them. Can’t go 4-7 minutes in the 2nd half without scoring a field goal.
    Hell…. when in that situation just line up at the free throw line and go off tackle (so to speak).

    Free throw shooting- Need to be in the top 3 in ACC to “get er done”.

    Last. Thanks again Jeremy for giving us a forum to
    let er rip……even during the off season.

    Thanks for the opportunity.

  7. oops …sorry about the typo’s..

    Under Conditioning it should read >we won a lot of games (not lost).

  8. Welcome back Jeremy! I too admire your stones confronting Battier. What a freaking schmuck! By the way, a few years ago I bumped into Emeka Okafor and Charlie Villaneuva strolling on San Antonio’s River Walk just before their Final Four. I walked up to those guys and introduced myself as a devoted Terp fan. I asked them a favor for all Terp fans everywhere:go out and kick Duke’s ass for us! Emeka laughed and said he’d try take care of business (he is polite almost to a fault). Charlie on the other hand chimed in with a raised, clenched fist and said in a voice loud enough for everyone in the immediate vicinity to hear, “Fear the Turtle man!” Boy did that make me feel good. Those guys were so class and friendly that night. What a contrast in demeanor the UConn players/fans were with the snooty dook fans down on the Riverwalk. I derived great satisfaction when they took Duke down and denied the evil empire another title during this decade.

  9. Welcome back Jeremy.

    Good post to say the least. I’m real glad you went up and stuck it to Battier. Way to do it for Terps fans everywhere. The 01 Final Four (in stark contrast to the 02 FF) is no doubt a sore spot for any Terrapin bball fan. To the same degree, Ive been seeing Chris Mccray strolling around the bars in College Park lately and I’ve been tempted to tell him to go find a classroom.

    Hope to be hearing from you during football season. I’m so excited for Sept 1 when the Terps kick it off. Do you, as the writer of this blog, have any prediction as to whether Portis or Steffy will start?

    Personally I feel like Steffy, although he knows the offensive system a lot better, has had more than enough chances to take control and become the #1. I think Portis is a fresh face that deserves a fresh shot. I mean look at the QB talent he had to compete with at Florida.

    Anyway, good to see a fresh post on the site. Congrats on getting married.

  10. Scott,

    I haven’t followed spring practice, but my take is this: Steffy at this point knows the offense way better (he has to right?). That means he will probably earn the starting job in practice. Personally, I don’t think he has the stones to excel on gameday which means a shitty performance against Villanova and another one against Fla Intl and we will be ushering in the Portis era at halftime of the WVU game. Unless we drop the Fla Intl game (an away game that is definitely a trap waiting to happen) and Portis will start against WVU.

  11. Definitely agree that the FIU game is a major trap game. Considering we barely beat this team by 4 points at home last year, a road trip to Miami could be trouble. Northern Illinois in 03 can’t help but creeping into my mind.

    I am reluctantly coming to terms with the fact that Steffy will be the starter at least in the beginning. The problem with that is hes going to have to play poorly for Portis to be given the job.

    My fear is that Steffy will do ok enough to keep the job early on but will then start crumbling once we get in any big, pressure packed games. By the time everyone realizes that Steffy just doesn’t have it (realizes again because hes proven this multiple times) the damage may already be done.

    We are returning a ton of talent from a team that was a hair away from winning the Atlantic last year. I have high hopes for this team and I don’t want this season to go down the tubes.

  12. Scott:

    I, too, am pretty excited about the Terp footballers. I’ve been reading a lot of the preseason football magazines (e.g., Sporting News, Athlon, etc.), and they all have MD finishing near the bottom of the ACC Atlantic. This is all based on the QB uncertainty.

    What I find amazing about these predictions is that, as you said, MD returns a ton of talent and experience…just not at the QB position. Their O-line is the best in the ACC, and their 2 starting backs combined for over 1500 yards. They have maybe the deepest receiving corp in the ACC, especially if you include Goode and Haynos at the TE positions. Their season will come down to the QB.

    That said, as we learned last year, as long as the QB can complete 60% of his passes and keep the TD/TO ratio near even, MD will win a lot of close games. I’d like Portis to start because he is the anti-Hollenbach, who played to not lose. Steffy is Hollenbach with more mobility and less smarts. Uhg.

    I think MD beats WVU in CP this year and beats Rutgers…and wins the Big East. I think MD finishes 8-4…and maybe even surprises some people and goes 9-3. Am I just seeing the world through gold/black/red/white glasses?

    The schedule isn’t that tough.

  13. Gentleman,
    Glad to see you’ve all assumed your positions back at the round table. Jeremy, congrats on getting married. I just got engaged this past weekend.

    Now onto basketball. Isn’t it a bit frustrating that Lunardi has actually felt compelled to already create an updated bracketology for the season with out really having any clue what’s what?

    Please take a look.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/bracketology

    PS. Sucks that Gaither’s a moron. He’s a stud on the football field.

  14. Don’t worry too much about Gaither. He didn’t play much at the end of last season anyway which is what they “blamed” his bad grades on. Yeah right. Fridge knew he was trouble last year and did a good job beginning to replace him. We will miss Jefferson though, that’s what worries me.

  15. good to see you back. I hate Duke more every day. I’m not that fond of Herman Melville, either.

    Some devoted readers here to have 15 comments within a week, considering how long it’s been since you posted last time.

  16. E$:
    I agree the updated bracketology is a complete joke at this point of the year. I’m pretty sure Lunardi acknowledges this and just does it for fun.

    The good news is, it seems the Terps have moved up a few slots in his most recent projections. He did a bracketology a few days after the national championship game and Maryland was somewhere in the middle of “next four out.” Now it appears he has us pegged as the last team to miss the cut.

    Maybe were just that much closer to securing a tournament berth?? Haha. And Josh, I’m also glad there’s some solid activity on this site. Glad to see the Terps fans getting excited for next season already.

  17. Jeremy,

    Welcome back, kudos, etc.

    It did take balls to confront the “fall guy.” Don’t know if I could have done it either. If I did (big if) there is no way I would not have been the gentleman and walked away after that one round of questioning. I would have embarrassed myself for sure. For grins, I thought about it and my opening question would have been either: “How much do you guys practice flopping, I mean do you guys spend an hour every practice doing it?” or, “Was Steve Blake’s steal of Jason Williams at the end of the 2001 CP game the funniest play you ever saw?” Speaking of which, I wonder where Williams was in that crew. Isn’t he a Chicago boy, now?

    BTW – I always thought that the even more egregious foul calling was in the “miraculous” come back that Duke made against the Terps in the 2001 season. The refs fouled out Blake with two very, very questionable calls and that sunk us. It caused me to put a chair through the wall of my house (true story) and that’s the duke hating moment that I’ll carry to my grave.

  18. Henceforth, the first question posed to all randomly encountered Dukies will be “Does ‘No’ really always mean ‘No’?”

  19. Nice, Jeremy. Very nice. Wish I could’ve witnessed it.

  20. Nice. I like the way you kept your cool. I probably would have cursed him out before being pummelled to the ground

  21. Way to walk the walk, Jeremy… and let me add to the congratulatory wishes on the nuptials!


Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s