Updated: Mar 22, 2022
6pm tonight is Coach K's last game - in Durham - at Cameron Indoor Stadium. He will be facing the North Carolina Tar Heels. If you've been sleeping under a rock, this is news to you. I'm going to guess if you're reading this, it's NOT news to you. You probably clicked here to see what drivel a Carolina fan like myself could possibly write considering all the ink already spilled about the legacy of Coach K, the future of the Duke program, and the future of the rivalry. I'm not going to bore you with facts about the rivalry like the breathless sideline tv reporters often do (Have you heard the schools are 8 miles apart? After 122 years of rivalry, they're only separated by 33 points! Back to you Jim!)
I hope the Uber back to RDU is uneventful and they enjoy a cold one at the ACC Cafe.
So if we're not talking rivalry, and we're NOT taking the low road by pointing out that Coach K cant possibly still have jet black hair at the age of 75, why the blog?
Well... the Duke Carolina game - for me personally - is a reason to get together with my buddies every year.
Specifically... a buddy.
Who cheers for Duke...
Even though he didn't go there.
We have an unofficial, sometimes interrupted but always acknowledged tradition of catching at least ONE of the games together - if location, family life, and pandemics play nice.
We've watched the game in various apartments, various cities, and various stages of intoxication.
We've watched the Tar Heels sweep a vaunted Duke team in Charleston on his bachelor party, and we've watched a 2010 Duke team... actually I don't really remember that game.
I remember Jon Scheyer crying afterwards, so I am going to assume it went our way and was uneventful.... my internet is down, can't check. Anyways, we share a friendly rivalry - for the most part.
We have certainly spent our share of time discussing the merits of a simple, undefined and vague "Brotherhood" vs the clearly defined, vastly superior, and just plain down home friendlier feeling of the Carolina Family. We have debated whether you should retire with great fanfare, making sure to let the world know they need to also offer you a gift in celebration of your glorious career - or conversely - fade quietly into the background with a simple gesture of dedication, leaving the spotlight on the program, players, and university.
And perhaps most importantly...
I have learned a lot about myself by having friends from the other side.
I've learned patience as they moan over missed calls from their couch, I've learned humility - not pointing out that we lead the overall series and have more championship banners, and I've learned to look deeper in a friendship to care for them - despite their bad choices.
So even though Roy has moved on and Coach K soon will, I'm not worried about either program or the rivalry.
Both are in capable hands (I hear the Scheyer guy cries less now) and both teams will continue to compete for Natty's well beyond this year... Who knows, maybe Duke will catch up to Carolina's six?!
(It would be nice to finally have a rival who was an equal...)
In the meantime, I'll enjoy today.
With my Duke buddy.
Win or lose.
Because I can, because it feels good to see friends in person again, and because win or lose I really enjoy our friendship.
But also because winning traditions are important and I want OUR tradition of watching Duke lose together to continue.
So who knows?
Maybe Coach K will complete his sweep tonight and the Duke faithful who have spent months camping in tents outside Cameron will be happy.
(Hopefully the people who spent $5k for their tickets will ALSO be happy, because I'd hate to spend five thousand dollars on a so-so experience.)
I'm sure my buddy will be walking on clouds, smiling himself to sleep as the Duke students run to the quad to burn their hand-painted benches in the satanic traditions of their forefathers.
Once again darkness will consume the Earth. But if I've learned one thing from the past few years, it's that showing empathy for people who think differently from me - and even flat out root against my team - is what keeps this country going!!
So if Duke wins - fine.
At least my buddy will be happy.
And since I'm the bigger person and my team has more Championship banners, I can be ok with that...
Even if my team doesn't win, at least we got to hang out together!
I hear that's almost as important as winning...