I am so glad I caught last night’s (9 PM EST) HBO Sports Documentary special, "Battle for Tobacco Road: Duke vs. Carolina". Although I love the rivalry, I wasn’t sure I needed to watch a documentary on the subject.
Oh, but I did. I never realized how much history I was missing.
Because I am from the Roy generation (who I love, don’t get me wrong) I know little about the legacy before him. I really enjoyed learning about Coach Dean Smith and his players.
I attended tributes to him while at UNC, but seeing him in his element on my television screen allowed me to feel proud of what he did for basketball at UNC and in the ACC.
What I thought was interesting about the documentary was its focus on Duke as “the North” and Carolina as “the South.” I was worried at first it would take a Civil War-type turn, but luckily it didn’t happen.
Instead, the documentary focused on the prep school kids versus public school kids idea. It was quick to point out everything that makes Duke a little odd (K-Ville, the Cameron Crazies) which was both on the mark and funny.
The documentary featured coaches and players from both teams, but most jabs seemed to come at the expense of Duke. It played on the spelling and pronunciation of Coach K’s name, who also came off as a bit of a whiner.
It was nice to see his perseverance though (he started off with a horrible first two seasons in 1980), and proved that he is a man and a coach to be respected.
For four years at UNC, I screamed, “Go to Hell, Duke!” at the end of every basketball game. The rivalry meant a lot to me, and I definitely felt my hatred for Duke grow every year.
But I appreciate our rivalry as a tradition so much more now. The closing line of the documentary really nails this love to hate relationship. “Duke and Carolina are pretty damn lucky to have each other. It’s made us all better.”
I think that rings true both on and off the basketball court.
I look forward to the next meeting in Roy’s house because I am ready to see us play some great basketball again. I haven’t seen our team put its heart and soul into a game since we won two weeks ago in Cameron Indoor Stadium. We need our spirit back, and there is nothing like a deep-rooted rivalry to bring out our best.