What makes us as people so awesome is that, in times where we are without, we will evolve and transcend to overcome what we lack. Its an unconscious survival tactic that we as humans deploy. From a basketball fan standpoint, being without the NBA has allowed me to pay more attention to college basketball and the season that lie ahead.
Of course, as soon as we talk about college basketball there inevitably will be a conversation of who you root for and who you can't stand. If you've been reading ETSF long enough, you know my disdain for the Blue Devils. Yet, I do have a ton of admiration for Coach Mike Krzyzwelasdl;fkjasdf (especially after he checked me in NYC for asking an egregiously long question) and there are even a few players I actually like...
...I could only come up with five.
#5. Luol Deng (2003-2004)
I can distinctly remember when SLAM profiled Deng and Charlie Villanueva and hearing their story playing back at Blair Prep. The Sudanese born, London bred player was insanely hyped coming out and seeing him at Duke was mildly refreshing. You could tell he was already pro ready and it was a joy to watch him play smoothly in Coach K's offense. He only did one year, and that was plenty enough. It can be tough to get that Blue Devil stench off of you at times.
#4. Grant Hill (1990-1994)
There are some of you that wonder why Hill isn't #1 on my list. Well, for one...its my list. Two, as much as I loved Grant Hill's game he was always the antagonist versus teams I loved. UNLV, Michigan and Cincinnati were all teams that I rooted for heavy as a child and Grant Hill was on the opposing side. He was definitely the first Duke player that made me appreciate what was going on there, he was a highlight reel any time he stepped on the court.
#3. Corey Maggette (1998-1999)
I can remember Dick Vitale getting up in arms about Maggette being one of the first Duke players to leave early (Along with William Avery and Elton Brand)during the tenure of coach Mike Krzyzwelasdl;fkjasdf. I can remember Maggette being one of the first dude with an edge (what the kids might call "swag" nowadays) and coming out of Chicago. I remember Maggette wearing that got damn #50. I can also remember Elton Brand gassing up Maggette basically daring him to up and slap the top of the backboard and hang on the basketball goal, then Maggette rising up, dunking on the fast break and smacking boards versus Florida. This got me extremely crunk and I instantly became a fan of his. Who knew he'd turn into a plodding, free-throw attempting, no-defense playing cretin who drags down NBA teams in a single bound.
#2. Trajan Langdon (1995-1999)
Arguably my favorite player of all-time at Duke, the man was out here putting on for the Light Skinned Coalition at a time when the LSC was a sparkle in a young ETSF's eye. He had the cool nickname, (The Alaskan Assassin? Too dope) he had insane shooting range and unfortunately he had to carry some crappy Duke teams. It hurt to see him miss free throws in the national title game versus UConn (even though I was rooting for UConn all the way) and it sucked to see him not stick in the NBA. Langdon had his three-point record broken by J.J. Redick back in '06, but there was never a doubt when Trajan put up the rock...it was going in.
#1. Dahntay Jones (2000-2003)
When I first head that Jones was transferring from Rutgers to Duke, I just dismissed it as someone who wanted to walk-on and just be part of "the team." I had no idea how live Dahntay Jones was, as he wasn't the most talented by any means but he was a phenomenal athlete and played like someone with nothing to lose. Out of all the players I've ever seen come out of Duke, he's the only dude I believe would be down to throw hands. He played extremely tough defense, was always (and I mean always) trying to dunk on people and he's borderline insane. I like players like that, and he was the anti-Duke player for that reason. Its the reason why i liked him so much. All hail Dahntay Lavall Jones.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE DUKE PLAYERS? DO YOU HAVE ANY? LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS!