One of the sappier rom-coms of the 1990’s (not that I would know) was Notting Hill, where a modest bookshop owner by chance meets and falls in love with a wildly famous movie star. And in that movie –where, of course, the guy gets the girl back — it all comes to a head at the end during a movie press conference. One journalist originally asks the actress Anna Scott – played by Julia Roberts – how long she will be staying in the UK. She replies she’s leaving immediately. Then, the bookshop owner – played by Hugh Grant – impersonates a journalist to ask Anna Scott if the guy she was seeing were to admit he was a jerk and beg to have her back, if she would. She replies she believes she would and then leans and whispers to her P.R. Chief, where the scene ends like so.
P.R. Chief: Dominic…if you’d like to ask your question again?
Journalist: Yes. Anna, how long are you intending to stay in Britain.
Anna Scott: [pause] Indefinitely.
The crowd of journalists begins to buzz with the realization of what’s going on. Elvis Costello’s ‘She’ enters as the soundtrack and paparazzi begin to frantically snap photos of the two of them. And all ends happily.
Well, I have bad news for Hugh Grant, because by the Duke Blue Devils’ definition of the word indefinitely, Julia Roberts is only sticking around for one basketball game.
That’s because that’s how long Grayson Allen’s ‘indefinite’ suspension following yet another incident of him blatantly tripping an opposing player lasted. The third time he has done so in the last two seasons. Three trips. One one-game suspension.
I would call it a slap on the wrist, but at least a slap on his shooting wrist might’ve at least affected him for a couple of games.
And, yes, it’s easy to cross the line here into “faux outrage”. So he tripped a couple kids, one might say, he’s a dirty player. Basketball has never had a dirty player before?
But Grayson Allen isn’t just dirty, he seems to act as if he has been granted authority from a higher being to be so.
In this case, optics matter. Go back to the most recent incident against Elon on December21st. It wasn’t just the trip, it was everything that ensued. His whiny expression like he was getting picked on when the foul was called. His verbally berating the ref including very clearly telling him he “sucks” (go back and watch the tape, it doesn’t take a lip reader). And, of course, the grand finale, that tantrum he threw on the bench like a little kid who was told he couldn’t get the sugary cereal at the grocery store.
All of it screams entitlement. It’s not just that Grayson Allen is a dirty player, it’s that he thinks he has the right to be. And that’s one lesson that time and time again seems to be taught at Duke University.
Because this isn’t just about Grayson Allen. This is about the four-letter school on his jersey. Duke. You can’t swing your arm in a sports bar without hitting someone that hates Duke basketball. Why is that? Because they’re perennially competitive? A lot of schools are always good. Kentucky. Syracuse. Kansas. Even Duke’s arch nemesis North Carolina.
No, it’s more than that they are good. It’s that there is an heir of superiority about them. For better or for worse, and whether it’s in their control or not, Duke is different. They’re the private schoolers amongst a swath of public school powerhouses. Hell, their endowment is almost the size of those other four schools I mentioned put together.
And, yes, we can’t deny that race plays a factor here. Fair or not, it always has. From Christian Laettner to JJ Reddick to now Grayson Allen (and, you know, every other in between), it has been, more times than not, white kids playing with this heir of superiority.
Take the infamous Christian Laettner “stomp”, for instance. It wasn’t just that one basketball player wrongfully stomped another, it’s that the white kid from upstate New York playing for the private school on tobacco road stomped on the black kid from Chicago playing for Kentucky (also may be worth noting: the guy who actually shoved Laettner for which his “stomp” was supposed retaliation for also happened to be the one white guy on the floor for Kentucky).
Like I said, optics matter.
And Grayson Allen, his tripping, his tantrum, and his joke of a punishment are just the next iteration of this. They play like they are better than everyone because at almost every critical juncture this belief is reaffirmed.
Perhaps Jalen Rose said it best when, referring to the Laettner stomp, he said, “99.9% of players would’ve gotten ejected from the game. Let one of the members of the ‘fab five’ step on somebody’s chest, they’d still be on probation if they did that.”
But, of course Laettner wasn’t ejected. Nor was Grayson Allen after any of his three incidents. Only the third resulted in a technical foul. At some point, wouldn’t you too feel entitled to act above the rules?
So, the hate Grayson Allen and Duke faces is nothing new. If anything, this whole incident could be construed as his initiation into the club. The club that fans love to hate.
The club that will be hated indefinitely.