I still hate Duke.
To all my followers and Terps fans out there, I pledge to you that my Duke hatred will never falter. Even in the face of adversity, as was the case this past Sunday night, I will continue to stand tall (or, well, about 5’7″ give or take) as a beacon of light for all anti-Dukies. Cameron Indoor Stadium is a subtle temptress. She lures you in with her rich history and non-commercialized appeal. She tempts you with her once-in-a-lifetime experience. Then she tries to turn you into a lover of her people BUT IT’S NOT GONNA WORK ON THIS KID, LADY!!
My Dad and I hit the road early Sunday morning. The game wasn’t until 8:00pm that night but we had a couple stops to make before then and we had been given several different estimates of the travel time by people who “know the road”. According to my smartphone’s map feature, it was supposed to take about 6 hours to get to my sister’s house in Raleigh and sure enough, we were right on schedule. I guess there’s a reason they’re not called dumbphones, right? Anyway, the excitement was building the whole trip and both of us were psyched to get there.
We made it to Stacey’s house just in time for the start of the 2nd half of the Ravens/Chiefs game (which thankfully ended with a Ravens win), so we said our hellos and quickly plopped down on the couch for the rest of the game. After the win, we spent the rest of the visit taking pics, playing a little Wii golf (which I dominated) and Wii tennis (which I didn’t), and enjoying a nice meal with the fam. It was great to spend a few hours with family that we don’t get the chance to see very often, but our alloted time with them was up. Time to get back on the road to the hotel so we could check in before heading to the game.
The wife had been kind enough to scout out a hotel close to the school when she purchased the tickets so all our plans were set. The beautiful Days Inn of Durham, our home for the night, was sketchy to say the least. Tucked behind the Budgetel Inn in a dimly lit lot just off the highway, it felt like a place you might go to “make the drop” if you know what I mean. The amenities didn’t matter to me though, we just needed a place to crash for the night and this place served that purpose just fine. We checked in, dropped our bags, and headed right back out around 6:30.
Duke University was a mere 2 miles from our hotel so directions were really not necessary as we were able to follow signs and other cars heading to the stadium. The campus was big, I could tell by the several miles it seemed we had to walk from the visitor lot to the stadium, but it gave off a small-school feel. We passed several old brick buildings that housed classes, completely surrounded by trees and tucked away down tiny streets. Walking from the car to the arena, I fully expected to be heckled as I donned my Terps gear which included a red knit beanie cap that stood out like a sore thumb in the sea of blue. I was told later by wy wife that the hat wasn’t working for me but being fashion conscious wasn’t my priority this night. You can be the judge, just check out the picture below.
As we followed some Duke fans down a tree-lined dirt path, I had two thoughts. Either this is a shortcut to the stadium or we just made a big mistake and will soon be on the news as “two unknown Maryland fans that were found beaten outside Cameron Indoor Stadium”. Thankfully, the former proved to be the case as the trees opened up to reveal the arena in all its historical glory. We passed the area known as Krzyzewskiville, where Duke students camp out in tents for tickets to the annual Duke/North Carolina game, and followed the crowd into the stadium. The entrance looked like the front door of someone’s house; nothing fancy or elaborate. Only the plaque above the doorway let people known what building they were about to enter. It felt like walking into a high school gym, not a famous college basketball arena, as we climbed some steps that led to the main concourse.
The hallway that goes around the periphery of the arena was filled with Duke memorabilia and brought back memories of some of the most famous, and hated, Duke players of all time. A picture of Christian Laettner hitting the famous 3-pointer to beat Kentucky in the 1992 East Regional Final hung in a protective glass case. A jersey worn by JJ Redick, my nemesis from 2003-2006, hung in a corner along with a plaque of his career statistics. I felt nauseous just looking at them so I focused on the section numbers as we made our way to our seats.
I had checked out a seating chart prior to our trip to get an idea of how good our seats were. Section 2, row O seemed like a middle of the road spot, not up front but not in the back either. As it turns out, Cameron Indoor Stadium must have a bias against the letters P-Z because row O is where it stops. That’s right, last row! Now in many sports arenas, the last row means you might as well just watch the jumbotron because you’re not seeing any action on the court. Cameron is different however. The place is smaller than many high school gyms and only seats about 9,000 people so the last row turned out to be pretty sweet viewing.
We were in our seats by a little past 7:00 so we had plenty of time to soak in the atmosphere as the teams warmed up and the students began their choreographed chants and hand gestures. As the crowds filed in, we noticed that the section reserved for fans of the away team was on the complete opposite side of the court from us. We were all alone in our Terps gear surrounded by hundreds of Duke fans but that was what made it even more exciting!
From the opening tip, the place was electric. I’ve been to lots of stadiums before, including many games at Comcast Center, home of the Terps, but nothing was like this. The ground under my feet shook with every Duke basket as the crowd roared. For our part, we supported the Terps 110%, screaming and cheering every time they scored. In fact, twice during the game I made an appearance on the jumbotron as I pointed to the word “Maryland” on my jersey and screamed at the top of my lungs. When Duke would make a run, the Terps answered right back and I was sure to let the fans around me know it. I was hoping to instigate a few Dukies with my loud cheering but to no avail.
The Terps hung in there with the #1 team in the country for most of the game, but victory slowly slipped away down the stretch. The defeat was disappointing to say the least, but the experience of seeing it in person certainly made up for it. Being able to cross this one off my list was a dream come true. Any real sports fan should do their best to visit this arena at some point in their life. As the crowd cleared out after the final buzzer, my Dad and I sat in our seats soaking in what we just witnessed. A Duke fan, sitting a few seats over, reached over and shook our hands and said, “Great game fellas. Your guys kept it close.” I nodded back, surprised that he hadn’t gloated or made some comment about how they kicked our a**. “Maybe Duke fans aren’t that bad.” I thought as he turned to walk away. Was Cameron getting the best of me? Was my loathing for Duke fading away? Then I saw that ugly blue “D” on the back of his jacket and suddenly wanted to tackle him in the aisle. Good try Cameron, you evil temptress. Not this time.
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As a UNC fan, I can absolutely empathize with your total and complete hatred of Duke. On behalf of all UNC fans, we’ve appreciated what you guys have done to Duke in the past few years and enjoy that you’ve not let them intimidate you as they seem to do almost everyone else in the ACC (except maybe VT, they’ve won a few rounds against Dook too). I’ve never seen a game at Cameron Indoor and, while it is certainly on my list (and on every sports fan list, for that matter), I just don’t know if I could hold my vitriol in enough to not get into a fight with one of them. I had the wonderful opportunity to see Duke v. UNC at the Dean Dome last year and although we lost, it was a close game and a dream come true.
Fear the Turtle!
Isn’t it lovely to know that Duke hatred exists nationwide? Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy toward you, a perfect stranger. My Bulldogs are having a rough year, but at least y’all know how to pronounce Gonzaga by now. Is it March yet?!
Nice writing, by the way ~
(one of Ms. Vic’s toadies)
Thanks for the comment and the duke hate. Together, we can make a difference. Haha. I can’t wait for march either.
…”NOT”. I meant to write “you were NOT the lead story on channel 14”. Damn typos. LOL.
Great Experience! So glad it went well, and you were the lead story on channel 14. Glad to know (but not surprised) that one of my fellow NC citizens was hospitable. 🙂
Jeff Weitz said:
I read this post in between procedures at work and feel it warrants my attention.
I first must compliment the detail and poetic justice you used to weave a colorful web of your journey to Durham. With the scholarly apt of Homer you painted yourself in medis res as if your were traveling alongside Odysseus and Achilles. With the prose of Stein and Updike you shared emotions brought forth by the epic setting that ravaged your senses.
That being said I can not stand any longer for the fallacy your have put before us. I am not the patron to dine on Dessertes de la Table and not know it’s chef’s talk for left overs. Of all people you were the last I would have thought to lead your lambs to slaughter with false prophecies. I will stand for it no more. I must clear the air and your conscious with the dirty laundry you hide in your closet of skeletons.
JIM IS NO MORE THAN FIVE FEET SIX INCHES!!!!!!
Seriously though, great job on the blog and wish I could have been there with you. Keep up the work on your 30 before 30. Also you might want to add help your brother-in-law start a business to this list…. as Sherlock Holmes put it so eloquently, “the game is afoot.” Details to follow…
First of all, I said “give or take” when referring to my height so whether it’s 5’6″ or 5’8″, I think I covered my bases. Although we both know it would never be 5’8″. Second, why do you have to go and use a thesaurus to post a comment, haha. Anyway, thanks for finally posting something!
Jeff Weitz said:
I’m offended you’d think I would consult a thesaurus. You probably sit with the greatest works of Maya Angelou and a stiff wine cooler when writing these.
Kidding again but love the ribbing. I think its because we no longer have Fantasy Football as an outlet for all this trash talk.
And just for future reference its the combination of late night History Channel, Food Network and years of repressed English classes that I can somehow pull that stuff out.
Wii Tennis is the bane of my existence. Oh, AND bowling. I was beaten by a 5 year old, and i wish I was joking.
Your day at Duke looks awesome! I almost thought for a minute that you were at Madison Square Garden in NYC.
Sometimes, my smart phone likes to be called a “Slowphone,” and has an important feature called the “Butt Dial,” which I unfortunately use too much 😦
If it makes you feel any better, the person I was competing with was my niece who is, lets just say, significantly younger than me. You must have the same phone as my sister who constantly butt-dials me. An interesting feature for a phone, don’t you think?
Glad you had a good time and got to see a good game (at least for 35 minutes, anyway). I have several Duke fans on my Facebook friends list (mostly old schoolmates I lost touch with). I just don’t understand how someone can root for Duke. Its like rooting for the Yankees or the Red Sox. Only, you are rooting for a douchy, entitled, rich-boy school.
Glad we can agree on this one. The game was surprisingly good, I almost wish they hadn’t given me hope like that. Oh well, at least I made the jumbotron!
Tori Nelson said:
Haha, Is it bad that I have the ‘sudden urge to tackle” at least a few people a day. Glad you made it out alive, Duke hatred intact!
It’s not bad Tori, just be careful who your targets are.