Duke Basketball: The 8 Most Iconic Moments in Blue Devils Hoops History
As far as clichéd histories go, Duke basketball's is exceptionally long and storied. Four national titles. Countless (actually, nine) national player of the year awards. A seemingly mandatory bid into the NCAA Tournament each year.
When evaluating the most "iconic" moments in Duke's history, very few came to mind. This is not a team that often features high-flyers like Derrick Williams, so iconic dunks aren't too common (though Williams himself made Duke his own personal poster back in March, but more on that later). Obviously great names like Grant Hill and the untouchable J.J. Redick come to mind, but specific moments have faded over time.
What sticks out are the wins. The win over Butler in 2010. Any win over North Carolina. Kentucky in 1992. Duke wins more than any team in modern college basketball, and that's where the memories come from.
Who knows when Duke's next memorable moment will come. Austin Rivers will break some ankles and throw down some dunks, but can he produce a championship? On a team that values substance over style, he'll need to in order to go down as one of the Duke greats.
Duke Wins the 1991 National Title
Take a trip back to the days of short shorts and flat tops. Powered by Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill and Thomas "Don't Call Me Tyrone" Hill, the Dukies took a seven point victory over Kansas in the national title game.
The win was made sweeter as it served to redeem the Blue Devils after their 30-point loss to UNLV in the national title game the year before.
It was Duke's first national title, but they wouldn't have to wait long for another.
Duke Goes Back-to-Back, Winning the 1992 National Title
Duke cruised to its second straight national title with a 20-point victory over Michigan's Fab Five. Losing only two games all season (one to North Carolina and one to Wake Forest), Duke held the No. 1 ranking all season long.
Bobby Hurley was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, while Jalen Rose and Chris Webber went on to have successful NBA careers. You tell me who really won.
Soon the shorts got longer and thus ended Duke's run as the dominant college basketball team. Duke wouldn't cut the nets (or the ones that matter, anyway) again until the new millennium.
Duke Takes out Arizona to Win the 2001 National Title...
Led by a surprisingly solid core of NBA players, Duke defeated Arizona in the national championship, 82-72.
Shane Battier was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player (which is college basketball's cute way of saying, "You're all equally valuable!"). Also on the squad were Chris Duhon, Jason Williams (not White Chocolate) Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy Jr. It's a very solid squad that actually holds up on the "Could these guys win today?" test. Bobby Hurley, in all likelihood, fails that test.
But Karma Is Proven a Very Real Entity a Decade Later
Recent NBA draftee Derrick Williams made it a point to clown all over the wholly less athletic Blue Devil squad in the 2011 Sweet Sixteen, throwing down a couple of dunks that made even my Duke-hater friends wince.
This isn't a Duke highlight, but it is "iconic" in the sense that all the Duke haters will remember this game forever. Duke was not only outclassed athletically, but also in the skills department as Williams knocked down threes while Kyle Singler never found a groove. To the Duke haters, this clip will be revered for years to come as evidence that all that talk about "winning the right way" and "class" is great, but sometimes you just have to get nasty above the rim to win.
Duke Survives Butler to Win 2010 National Title
Duke just barely squeaked by Gordon Hayward, I mean Butler, to win the 2010 national title. Hayward owns the floor, even in defeat, but ultimately Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, Jon Scheyer and Big Brian Zoubek walk away with a championship.
The iconic moment, again, is more of a Butler moment than a Duke moment. It demonstrates more about Butler's startling ability to come so close than it does about Duke's season.
Also, it seems wildly unfair that Jon Scheyer has a figurative ring while J.J. Redick toils away in the NBA. I don't think anybody would argue that Scheyer had a better Duke career. Such is life, I guess.
Speaking of J.J. Redick... How's a 30-Footer Taste?
As mentioned earlier, J.J. Redick left Duke without a national title and, therefore, without any discernible wins under his belt. But he did make this shot, so there's that.
This 30-footer embodies everything that was Redick. He's cocky, sure, but he knew it was going in the whole way. It might not have been a good shot, but then again, Redick was forced to take a lot of bad shots considering the offensive firepower around him.
Poor Greg Paulus
Greg Paulus, like Derrick Williams' victims in 2011, had a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The video above demonstrates this.
No player personifies the pesky, small, slow basketball player that so many college basketball fans hate like Greg Paulus (okay, maybe Bobby Hurley had him beat). He's a Duke icon, even if only for the wrong reasons: getting tea bagged, getting crossed up, slapping towels and floors, etc.
The Shot: Grant Hill the Christian Laettner
As bad as you may think this article has been, you didn't actually think I'd forget this one, right? It's probably the most famous shot in college basketball history (though if Gordon Hayward's shot had fallen in 2010, that would definitely take the throne).
Perfect pass. Perfect move. Less-than-perfect defense. Win. The most iconic moment in Duke basketball history.