Another View, Mine: March 2019

John Nieman

I am proudly and unashamedly a Carolina fan. Being so, I have many biases and prejudices, not the least among them being that I hate Duke with a fiery passion.

So one should be mindful of this when one is reading what I write about the Duke basketball situation, which really goes to the college basketball situation.

Over the years, there have been players who go to play basketball at a school with an apparent intent to play for that school, and if their talents are such that they will play in the pros they may or may not leave school early to go to the NBA. And then, there are those players who, because of various rules, go to play at a school for the minimum period and then go to the NBA.

I have absolutely no problem with players who leave college early to go play pro due to circumstances that present themselves during their college careers. But there is a difference between those players and the ones who have absolutely no intention of playing more than one season at their chosen school.

And I have absolutely no problem with players who realize that they are ready to play professional basketball right now and are doing what they can to accomplish that. It is certainly not their fault that they have to go to play at a college for a period of time.

My thoughts are: how do the students and alumni feel about players who are there only to kill time before moving to their profession?

It is certainly thrilling and to some degree satisfying to have a magnificent player like Zion Williamson playing for your team. But is he really a dookie? As a Carolina fan, I find it very difficult to hate him with the same passion that I had for Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley and Eugene Banks and other players who consciously went to Duke to be a member of their team. Quite frankly, I really don’t think of him as a dookie.

And so I wonder if Duke students and alumni feel the same warmth for Zion Williamson as they do for players who commit to playing for Duke as a career.

I have no doubt that Duke fans derive great satisfaction from the success of the team due to his play. But is there some nagging feeling that this is being accomplished through the use of a 1-year semi-mercenary?

And before the reader jumps to the conclusion that this is just sour grapes, let me point out that the reason I bring this up is because of my own feelings about the accomplishments of the 1972 Tar Heel team that were in no small way due to the outstanding play of Bob McAdoo, Coach Smith’s first junior-college transfer, who left school the day after the NCAA tournament was over.

I remember feeling at the time that the success of that team wasn’t quite as satisfying because we had a player who clearly was there to get to the NBA. And I say this even though I knew Bob McAdoo in school and knew that he loved Carolina.

Now everything I’ve written might be completely wrong and should be immediately disregarded if young Mr. Wil­liam­son is in a Duke uniform next season.

Quite frankly, I hope he is. He really is a great player.  (That was really hard.)

I guess my bottom line to this is that I wonder is there a feeling among Duke students and alumni similar to the one I had that this success is not being accomplished by a fellow student but by merely a member of our school’s team?

Probably not. After all, they are dookies.

The US Women’s National soccer team players filed suit against the United States Soccer Federation for equal pay and treatment. The suit was filed on International Women’s day. Good. As a Carolina alum and fan I know the unique and special value of high-quality women’s soccer. It should be rewarded and appreciated.

With regard to low-level local soccer, I really need to change the Index if I am to be of any use to my indoor soccer team. Fat Boy index: 293.