Friday, March 16, 2012

Not For the Faint of Heart

To everyone who knows me and knows how much I love Duke basketball, let me reassure you.  I am alive.  I am still breathing, and all breakables are still intact in my house.  I'm not even drunk and irrational.  Well, not yet anyway.  I'm disappointed, but you can't be disappointed if you're not fully invested.  And if nothing else, I'm always fully invested in Duke basketball.

I've lived the majority of my life with a heart broken by college basketball.  Even in '91 and '92 and '01 and '10, I wound up with a broken heart simply because the season of my favorite team comes to a close.  Sure, those 4 years were easier to take as they ended on a victory, a glorious victory, but still they ended.  And no season like that one will ever be again. 

I've also lived the majority of my life with people crowing about every Duke loss.  In the 4 championship years, I also endured the bitching about how they won.  When it comes to Duke basketball, most of the world will always have something to say, and if you can't handle it, you better find another team to support.  Being a Duke fan is not for the faint of heart.

Am I satisfied with this outcome?  Of course not.  No competitor wants to go out this way.  Have I enjoyed the hell out of it?  Absolutely.  My favorite coach became the all-time leader in men's Division I basketball.  We won the Maui invitational in the most thrilling of fashions.  We fought back in so many games that seemed desperately far out of reach, including snatching a win out of some powder blue clutches on their own turf.  I witnessed Miles Plumlee snag 22 rebounds in one game.  I saw Tyler Thornton emerge as the unlikeliest of heroes.  I watched the White Raven soar.  I fell hard for Austin Rivers' game and saw a level of swagger I haven't seen since #32 strolled the court.  The best part of college sports, of any youth sport, is bearing witness to the emergence of men from the footsteps of boys.  There is profound pride in their joy and empathy to their heartbreak.  And I found, after 25 years of searching, a hardcore Duke Family of fans via Twitter with which to share this roller coaster season.

There are lots of corrections left to be made, and no coach or player ever fails to realize that.  The wheel keeps turning, and work must be done.  My favorite tweet of the night for me was via Ben Swain (@thedevilwolf):
"Austin on what he'll do tomorrow.  Wake up.  Go to the gym.  This is my life.  This is all our lives."

And the saying is true, "Duke basketball never stops".  It never even takes a break. 

I don't know what the next season will hold, but I know I can't wait to see it.  Let's go, Duke.

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