The People vs. The Blue Devils: Is Zion Williamson Just Another Reason to Dislike Duke?

From Christian Laettner to Grayson Allen there's been plenty of dastardly Duke Blue Devils in the past. But is Zion Williamson now apart of that group?
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Zion Williamson
Grant Halverson, Getty Images

Does Zion Williamson Fit In With The History of Duke Dismay?

Death.  Taxes.  Disliking the Duke Blue Devils.  These three things in life we know to be certain for a good portion of the United States.  In sports, there are brands that seem to make people contort their face in disgust just by the mere mentioning of their names.  New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Golden State Warriors, Boston Red Sox…chances are one of those names sparked some sort of negative emotion.  And if they didn’t?  Duke Blue Devils.  That probably did the trick.  On the topic of Duke, what emotion does the name Zion Williamson convey?

Hidden it is not, Duke has seemingly been the bully on the block that no one wants to see riding their bike towards you.  A lineage of top-caliber players and their winning ways have made Duke easy to cheer against.  From Christian Laettner to Grayson Allen and everyone in between, there always seems to be that one guy who you just can’t stand.

Not Your Average Devil

Allow me to let you in on a secret: Zion Williamson should not be the new name added to that list.

By this point in the season, Duke continues to dominate the headlines we see on TV or on Twitter. Tt’s almost always involving the 6’7″ man-child from Spartanburg, South Carolina — and for obvious reasons.

Netting 21.2 points per game, on .662% from the field, along with 9.4 rebounds there’s an obvious reason why the media wants to draw attention to what Zion is doing.  Hell, people have been using his name for a good three years now to get views on YouTube, articles, you name it!

And we as fans take the bait because it’s hard to place Zion in a typical box.  It’s a tricky situation to try and project what he’ll be in the NBA and who he could turn in to professionally.  This has a lot to do with the fact that there isn’t much of a mold for him to fit.

He’s different.

The Strength of The Duke Brand

Quite possibly this could be why some want to shake their head when they see his face and his Duke jersey on TV; they just don’t know how to take him.  How can a teenager he that big?  Is it possible that he can a teenager be that quick?  Why can a teenager be that good?

He’s different.

Do me a favor and scroll back and process that names I threw out as to why most of the general public dislike the Blue Devils. Then rejoin me back here after you cuss me out for making you remember JJ Redick or if I were to highlight the fact that Greg Paulus is currently a Division 1 assistant coach.

We have been conditioned to not like the program.  And for good reason — they win.

5 National titles.  Sixteen Final Four’s.  Twenty-five conference championships.

As a fan of another school or neutral it’s easy to dislike them.  But don’t blame Zion.

And in turn, don’t blame Duke if you dislike Zion.

The moment a camera was placed on him at a young age, Zion Williamson became a name we all knew for his freak highlight dunks.  I understand that at this point we might be exhausted by hearing the name and seeing yet another unbelievable display of athletic prowess we rarely see in sports.

But why should we dislike the kid?  Unless your favorite team resides in the ACC, it’s hard to cheer against him. If you’re watched ESPN+’s ‘Earn Everything‘ show about the Duke basketball program you’ll see Zion appears to be a genuinely nice young man off the court.

Zion Williamson never took an inbound pass from Grant Hill to make one of the most historic shots ever.  He didn’t trip or cheap shot anyone in the middle of a game and pouted on the bench when punished for it.  Zion is Zion.  Simple and plain.  Don’t lump him in as just another Dookie who makes your day-to-day miserable when his name is brought up.

It’s 2019, basketball players are ever evolving, at this point, you should have plenty of reasons to not the like the Duke Blue Devils.

Zion Williamson is not one of them.

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