When it comes down to Duke, college basketball fans really have just one of two choices: They can either love the Blue Devils, or they can "hate" the Blue Devils. There's just no other way getting around it.
While it would be easy for fans to pull for Duke because of the great history and tradition behind the program, there are always going to be those who "hate" success. That's in addition to a number of schools that will "hate" the program because they are stiff competition athletically.
Due to the close proximity to their biggest rival, UNC, there are also going to be fans of both programs living very close to one another.
This may not seem like a big deal to many around the country, but if you live in the great state of North Carolina, more specifically near Tobacco Road, you know just how much the rivalry means to the alumni and fans of both universities.
It's hard to imagine, but the two college basketball powerhouses are located just 10 miles from each other—Duke in Durham and UNC in Chapel Hill.
While UNC has very little to do with this article, it is worth noting that the Heels are the No. 1 source to pursue if "Duke-hating" is your passion. Likewise, if Tar Heel-bashing is going to be your new hobby, look no further than Durham for fans willing to help craft your style.
But what primarily makes the Duke basketball program one of the most "hated" in the country? Why does it seem that every college hoops fan seems to root for any team other than the Blue Devils?
Just for the record, I am an avid Duke fan and am proud of it. Although it would be easy to say that the Blue Devils are well loved around the country, I know that's certainly not true. While looking into the "hatred" surrounding the program, I decided to compile a list of the top 10 reasons that the Duke basketball program, as well as the coaches and players, are "hated" by other college hoops fans.
(And for another look at 10 reasons fans "hate" Duke from the perspective of a normal college basketball fan, go here.)
The list begins with the creativity displayed by the Cameron Crazies during every home game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. While it may seem juvenile to find hatred in cheers from the home team's students, Duke has certainly had its share of famous chants throughout the years.
While the term "Air Ball" was first originated by the Crazies years ago, the chants relating to the opposing team's key players and the famed "Go to Hell Carolina!" cheer are those that truly stand out.
There was also an article written about the cheers created by the Duke fans, and if you'd like to read more about the subject you can check it out here.
So, while it's pretty absurd that the chants a school's fanbase creates can cause controversy and hatred, the Cameron Crazies will continue to distract opponents and try to get into their heads for years to come.
One of the major criticisms of the Duke basketball program concerns the ability for their players to seemingly draw charges at will.
While this has caused opponents to feel as if the referees were giving every call to the Blue Devils, most of the time it was, in fact, a Duke player getting in great position to draw the offensive foul. They often practice this several times a week, so it's not surprising that they have great success with the play during games.
Although instant replay and even live television often proves that the player in question was in time to draw the personal, more times than not the opposing team will feel as if the call was made primarily because of the name on the front of their jerseys.
After charging calls start to pile up throughout a game, the opponents, as well as their fans, will begin to get annoyed with Duke. While this may or may not be their problem, it will continue to make the Blue Devils one of the most "hated" teams to play for many years to come.
After totaling 900 career wins, four national championships, 13 ACC tournament championships and 12 regular-season ACC championships in his 31 seasons at Duke, coach Mike Krzyzewski is one of the most successful coaches in the history of basketball.
That doesn't even include his work over the past few summers, as Coach K has dedicated his time off from Duke towards the development of the USA Men's Basketball Team—along with winning the 2008 Olympic gold medal.
Big names such as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Deron Williams, Jason Kidd, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant and Carlos Boozer, amongst others, pledged that they would commit to the national team, and most of the work done to recruit these high-profile players was done by Coach K himself.
However, with the number of NBA stars willing to play for him, as well as accumulating all of the success he has had at the helm of the Duke basketball program, Coach K has a large number of fans—but even that many more "haters".
Another negative of the program that can heard multiple times while watching a Duke game is the number of calls that opposing team fans believe are going the Blue Devils' way.
While it is very unfortunate, if you don't pull for Duke, chances are your team is going to underachieve in a given season (not saying that hasn't happened to the Blue Devils either—2007 in particular). Having said that, when playing against tough competition, there are going to be calls that just aren't going to always go your way.
Although it has been said a million times, Duke does not pay the referees, nor would they even consider it. The program is one that has been run cleanly since Coach K's arrival, and although minor allegations have been made about him this week, it will most likely end up being resolved by an NCAA investigation.
It is a fact that Duke will sometimes receive question-mark calls, but never have they had every call gone their way in a game—nor has any team in history. That is why the assumption that the Blue Devils receive every favorable call is absurd, yet they will always be hated for it.
Playing their home games in the historic Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Blue Devils are always primed to be one of the top teams in the country and make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
The fan turnout at basketball games, because of those key factors, is unlike any other.
The student section, known as the “Cameron Crazies," is one of the most well-known fanbases in college basketball today. Whether it be providing the Blue Devils a spark or distracting the opposing team's top player, the “Crazies” are guaranteed to play a major part in any home contest.
Chanting at the opponent, pumping up their Blue Devils and even raising the level of excitement throughout the arena, the Crazies are surely the best fans in college basketball.
Because of that well-known fact, as well as the belief that ESPN has overhyped the Duke student section for years, college basketball fans across the country will continue to "hate" the Cameron Crazies.
It's a shame, but a number of talented college basketball players will never be able to play at a high level in the NBA. It has also been well chronicled that the Duke basketball alumni, in particular, are likely to struggle once they leave Durham.
JJ Redick and Shelden Williams, just two of the all-time greats at Duke, fall under this same category. But while Williams has rarely received major minutes in the NBA, Redick has become a very influential bench player for the Orlando Magic and recently signed a two-year contract to remain with the team.
Amongst the other Blue Devils to have also excelled in the NBA include Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Grant Hill, Shane Battier, Corey Maggette, Mike Dunleavy, Elton Brand and even Gerald Henderson.
So, while some of the players from Duke that have gone to the NBA haven't lived up to their potential (as the "haters" will point out), there is still a great group of guys doing fantastic things at the next level, and even others that are sure to succeed in the future—in particular, Kyrie Irving.
One well-known motto of the Blue Devil faithful for the past few seasons has been that "Duke doesn't rebuild, the reload." That couldn't be any more accurate than this past recruiting class for Coach K and the basketball program.
While Duke will be losing three key players from last season's team (Nolan Smith, Kyrie Irving and Kyle Singler), they will also be bringing in the No. 2 recruiting class in the country.
Amongst the highly touted players in the class (Austin Rivers, Quinn Cook, Marshall Plumlee, Alex Murphy and Michael Gbinije), Rivers in particular seems to be the star. Although, due to the loss of Irving, Cook could also play a major role for the Blue Devils next season at point guard.
However, just as the majority of the other highly touted classes of 2011 will reveal, recruiting young talent is one thing, but implementing the players into your respective system is another. Also, it doesn't help that Duke is consistently ranked within the top five classes year in and year out—giving fans another reason to "hate" the program.
This is about as bad as people believing that Duke always gets the charging calls, except worse.
There have been a number of players in the past, including Steve Wojciechowski and Christian Laettner, that have been accused of being over-theatrical when receiving little-to-no contact in order to earn a trip to the free-throw line.
The one Blue Devil that has received the most grief in the past few seasons for this very act, however, happens to be Greg Paulus.
While he didn't always try to draw contact, he did make it apparent that he always felt like he was getting hit when driving to the basket or shooting from the perimeter. There is nothing illegal about it, but nothing enrages college basketball fans more than faking contact and earning free throws.
Although players from every team do it occasionally, Duke is the one team that everyone considers to be the worst, and thus is "hated" the most for it.
Dick Vitale and ESPN always try and publicize Duke basketball as much as they can at the beginning and throughout the NCAA season. The reason, and one that most overlook, is that there are so many Duke fans living outside of Durham that want to watch their team play.
Not to say that all small colleges, whether that be a school like Butler, deserve to have their name in national headlines every day—but, it is nice to see a school like Duke, a small college in Durham, NC, have their time in the spotlight when college basketball season rolls around.
Sure, they have a large amount of nationally televised games each week during the season. Sure, they receive a large majority of the media's attention when they have a game on any given day.
However, they have earned their right to have the nation's attention when they play—due to the longevity of success the program has had under Coach K.
If other fans want to "hate" Duke because they receive media attention, that's certainly okay with the Blue Devil faithful; as long as there are at least two Duke games on ESPN each week, I'm not complaining about getting to see my team play at all.
No one hates bad teams, because life already punishes them. Just think about it: The New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Lakers are despised; the Baltimore Orioles and the Sacramento Kings, however, are not. Only good teams attract the kind of hatred Duke attracts.
When a team or program is good for as long as Duke has been, the public begins to feel both jealousy and hatred towards them. While this may not have been what fans of the Blue Devils wanted at the time, there's just nothing you can do about people and their strong opinions.
I think it actually makes the fans of Duke proud to be hated by so many because, as I have said before, only the successful teams bring about hate.
Regardless, after winning four national championships since 1990, as well as dominating the ACC tournament for a good period of time, the Duke basketball program will continue to be one of the most successful in college basketball for many years to come.
Along with that success, however, comes the "hatred" that so many Blue Devil fans have begun to relish.