Excellent documentary on former Duke basketball star Christian Laettner Sunday night. Laettner was a savagely competitive , incredibly successful player for Duke in the nineteen nineties.
Opponenents, and the fans of those opponents, hated him with a passion. They did so because he was nasty, dirty, abusive, and very successful. He also was very clutch, and very handsome.
Everybody assumed he was a typical Duke rich kid born with a silver spoon in his mouth. But that was not the case. Some Duke kids, like Laettner and my son Mike, came from very modest backgrounds. Although Laettner attended a prep school in Buffalo, New York, he had to work scrubbing floors and ripping up carpets to pay his way through.
And although Laettner was a lilly white kid playing a black man’s game, he was able to more than hold his own in the world of trash talking, physical contact, and one ups manship. The consensus of those who know the sport say that he is one of the greatest college basketball players ever.
And he did not just apply tough tactics to opponents. He did the same things to his teammates, creating intensely hostile team practice environments. But this tension worked out for the best.
In the final seconds of a close game, when the faint of heart want no part of the basketball, Laettner was at his best. For example, in a classic game versus Kentucky, Laettner took a full court pass and made a shot with no time left on the clock to win the game. He did the same thing versus Connecticut.
While on the Duke team, he led them to four ‘final four’ appearances, and two national titles. Truly incredible.
Ironically, he did not have the same level of success as a professional, but it must be noted that he usually played on inferior teams.
Anyway, it’s a great documentary, even if you don’t care for basketball. ESPN usually repeats them many times, so you will be able to catch it. Give it a watch.