I’m a Duke Fan. Fight Me. Here’s How It Happened. » VSB

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I’m a Duke Fan. Fight Me. Here’s How It Happened.

The Duke Blue Devils celebrate with the championship trophy after defeating the Wisconsin Badgers 68 to 63 during the NCAA Men’s Final Four National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 6, 2015, in Indianapolis. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)


It’s March Madness time again, America. Office’s across America are bracing for Thursday and Friday’s lack of productivity as we all spend the vast majority of our work days refreshing whatever sports apps or sites we use to keep up with scores if we’re not altogether saying “fuck work” and watching the tourney on our desktops or company supplied televisions.

What a time…to be alive.

I’ve filled out a few brackets, and I always save one bracket for the Duke Blue Devils. No matter how good or bad the season, I have one bracket that has them winning the whole thing. You see, I’m a Duke basketball fan.

Fight me, bro.

Now, I wasn’t always a Duke fan. In fact, there are a few very confusing years in there where I was both a fan of Duke (kinda sorta) and a fan of Michigan (because who wasn’t?). But my fandom and resolve for Duke has hardened over the years and I’ve become steely eyed in said resolve. I’ve worn Duke jerseys in the lion’s den (on the campus of the University of Maryland-College Park in 2002-03) and have gladly spoken the praises of Trajan Langdon to anybody who will listen. I own a Chris Duhon jersey. Read that again.

I also own a Jay Williams Duke AND Chicago Bulls jersey. I actually really liked JJ Redick, bad poetry notwithstanding, and loved to see him bomb out on folks from the three-point line.

P. What the fuck? How the fuck?

Glad you asked. See, I’ve never graced the campus of Duke University. Hell, I was a fan of Duke roughly twenty years before I ever ENTERED the state of North Carolina. Nobody in my family went to Duke. Coach K is not my homeboy or cousin. I have nan tie to the state of North Carolina OR Duke University, unlike I do with the University of Michigan; I never attended the school but my little sister was born at the UofM hospital and for a short time I lived on State Street in Ann Arbor as a mere tyke during the many moves my family made around southeastern Michigan.

My father is not a Duke fan and neither are any of my uncles. In facts-l225, until I got older, I didn’t actually know any Duke fans.

Me? I became a Duke fan the old fashioned way: Starter jackets.

In the early ‘90s there was one very, very hot commodity on these streets, Starter parkas. If you grew up in the ’90s then you know exactly which ones I’m talking about. They had the zipper on the right side (I think) to holster your gun (I guess?) and were all the rage. Everybody had one. If you were a kid back then you HAD to get you a Starter parka with the hoodie. I lived in Frankfurt, Germany, during this time and our PX (similar to WalMart with way less items and everything is tax free) had a various array of parkas. The thing is, they were not cheap. I don’t remember the exact price point, but let’s say it wasn’t exactly a slam dunk on convincing my parents to make said purchase.

Now, as a family with strong ties to Atlanta, Georgia, and few cousins who would eventually attend Georgia Tech on the way to the NFL, Georgia Tech was long a school I could get behind. It helped that Kenny Anderson was kicking ass and taking names. I was definitely rooting for the Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech in 1991 and 1992. In fact, I really wanted a Georgia Tech parka.

(Confusing fandom was a thing for me as a kid: I had tons of Michigan stuff because my mother still lived in Michigan and would send me stuff for Christmas. I STILL have my authentic Chris Webber jersey from, like, 1992.)

Well my mother decided to finally get me one for Christmas and I guess that day they were sold out of Tech jackets or something because my mother came home with the fresh all blue Duke Blue Devils joint with the emblazoned “D” with the blue devil logo on the front left side and the words “Duke Blue Devils” written out on the back. Had me lookin’ like I was straight crippin’ outchea.

It wasn’t the one I wanted, but let me tell you how much I loved that jacket. For starters (pun intended), it was about three sizes too big for me. I was a shrimp in 8th grade. In fact, I didn’t actually grow until – for perspective, I was shorter than even my three years younger little sister – 11th grade. So even though this jacket drowned me I wore it ALWAYS. It was fresh. This jacket was purchased in probably 1993 or maybe 1994 (after doing some background checking, I originally thought it was purchased in 1991). Duke was a champion squad, having bested both Kansas and Michigan in back to back season (1990-91 and 91-92).

So by the time this jacket was purchased, I was wearing winners on my back. And because I was around 14 at the time and never really paid attention to college basketball unless Michigan or GT was involved, because I now had a jacket to go along with a team, I started following Duke pretty relentlessly. To the point that all of my boys know I’m a Duke fan and my fandom has remained intact since the leary 90s.

It’s funny how that happens: Before that jacket, I didn’t really care one way or another, but after getting the jacket and folks asking me if I liked Duke, I had to really buckle down on my fandom, which I did. Then a funny thing started to happen, I really started caring. I’d be fully invested in the winning or losing of Duke. I’ve even vehemently defended the program in arguments about their recruitment efforts, especially in the wake of the awesome Fab 5 doc produced by Jalen Rose who spoke very candidly about how they viewed Duke and the type of Black players they recruited. All in, b. All in.

Point is, I just spent over 900 words to tell you that I’m a Duke fan. And really, it’s my mama’s fault and I’m pretty sure she couldn’t care less.

I know Duke is weaksauce this year and is about as likely to win as Morehouse. But they’re still my squad. However, on the bracket I’m submitting, I got Villanova.


(As a brief aside, when Maryland started rocking the Duck Fook shirts, I absolutely did a very private and personal slow clap because THAT shit is brilliant.)

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • Jennifer

    We had all our reasons…

    Middle-school. 1992. Light-skinned was in. Grant Hill. For a good 5 year span, I knew way too many facts about Coach K and those young men — even after Granty-poo left for the NBA. Regardless, I still can’t stand Christian Laettner.

    • Charles Johnson

      did you watch that 30 for 30 on him?

      • Jennifer

        Yeah. That doc did nothing to help my opinion. My only takeaway was that the guys who have spent years hating on him need another hobby.

    • Wise Old Owl

      Are you sure…in 92 Dark Skin Brothers were in full effect with MJ, Bobby Brown and Wesley Snipes…it was the early 90’s take over…see I wanna be like Mike and New Jack City…must of been a hardcore light skin stan…lol

    • Overtymem Usicradio

      Excuse me but dark skinned ruled until Iverson showed up thank you very much!

  • A.K.O.O.

    I was reading this wearily until you spoke on the Duke Starter Jacket. Those were fresh as hey’ll! As were the Bulls, Hornets, Kentucky, and Braves, Starter jackets. I would mention the ‘Aint’s but they Ain’t worth mentioning…

    Back when I was a junior, there was this girl named Tiffany (Shout Outs to Candler Rd) who had the same jacket, and rocked it for the similar reasons. We never questioned her about it as the jacket at the time was pure fuego.

    I don’t care for em. But then again college basketball as a whole isn’t that exciting to me. I simply use March Madness as an excuse to keep Futures “March Madness” in heavy rotation.

    I have no regrets.

    • miss t-lee

      “I was reading this wearily until you spoke on the Duke Starter Jacket. Those were fresh as hey’ll!”

      I remember everyone having the Hornets, Raiders, Cowboys, Rockets, Spurs during my high school years.
      Mostly those pull-over jumps, and everybody wore them with their high top FILAs or Black/White Adidas low tops.

      Awww. youth.

      • A.K.O.O.

        Yep. All of the aforementioned were gettin hella play in GA.

        • miss t-lee

          I can believe it.

      • DiamondIsMyRealName

        My son has a throwback Hornets one now we got from a thrift store and I dont want him to EVER outgrow it!

        • miss t-lee

          They were pretty fresh. Always loved the colors.

      • cedriclathan

        My kids were on swim team with Jack Tatum’s kids. At championship meet, they raffled off a Raiders jacket. I hand my daughter .50 and said,”Go get my jacket.” I ended up winning it. Never been worn outside of the house and I wouldn’t let my son wear it to school because kids were getting jacked for those stupid jackets. Still sits in my closet, brand new. We run into his widow every now and then. Really laid back family.

        • miss t-lee

          Wow! That’s awesome.

  • Lea Thrace

    Read the headline. Read no further. This might be where I part with VSB. Im on the edge. I swear if Daymoan admits to be a fcking Pats fan, I WILL BURN THIS SH$T TO THE GROUND!

    • miss t-lee

      You gonna revolt, eh?

    • Charles Johnson

      Lea told me on the DL that she just sent her russian FSB cyber goons after damon. “Yahoo account is done son!” – not my words

    • LMNOP

      He has a cute little story about his mom buying him the wrong shirt in 8th grade though. He was just a kid.

  • I knew you would save us. But Duke..no.

  • Also, that Stater pullover probably got eleventy million people shot in the ’90s. Serious Irony that Duke colors were so gangster.

    • panamajackson

      Those Duke joints were EXTRA blue too. Like crispety, crunchety blue. So crippish.

      • miss t-lee


      • A Blood could see you from space in that thing.

      • BrothasKeeper

        The crippest!

    • miss t-lee

      It did. Folks were getting robbed for them jumps, and shot.

    • My brother got stuck up twice for his Starter jacket.

  • Kia Muze

    I’ll be the first to say, Well Said sir!! As a Duke alum, we welcome you to the club! Feel free to help us torch some frat benches on campus when we win :-) DDMF! DD!!

    • panamajackson

      thank you for the love.

      • Catfish Jenkins

        Was it Duke though? Or was it the parka? I’m from that era as well (and blue is my colour for real) and I wanted a jacket like that too, but the Canadian peso at the time alongside my parents’ refusal to spend on “bloodclaaat foolishness” preventing me owning one. I’m sure if your mom sent you UNLV or some other school you’d be repping them too.

    • The year 2075 is gonna be lit for you guys.

      • Other_guy13


    • ChokeOnThisTea

      What year? Trinity or Pratt?

  • ThatJerseyGirl

    Ughhhh…most* Duke fans are the literal worst. I’ve been to two games at Cameron Indoor. Ugh.

    *Downgraded from “all” since I totally understand the Starter jacket flow and how that would be enough to convert any kid back in the day.

  • Wowza23
    • miss t-lee

      It already had a hole in it, put it in the trash where it belongs.

  • PinkRose

    Chapel Hill alum here, Tarheels baby!

    And I DO NOT approve this post!!

    • ChokeOnThisTea

      Ha! Duke alum, baby! And I approve.

  • A Girl Has No Name

    Yooooo…..NC born and raised. One of my Dad’s “lady friends” bought me a Grant Hill jersey back in the day, I been rocking with Blue Devils er since….. represent.

    • BrothasKeeper

      *downvotes while wearing a Brad Daugherty jersey*

      • A Girl Has No Name

        need pics, never saw one???

      • Catfish Jenkins

        Every new thread on here, I need you to down/upvote while wearing someone’s jersey. This is fu ck ing classic!

        • BrothasKeeper

          It’s apropos here only because of my raw, seething hatred for Duke/ overwhelming love for UNC. But I’ll see what I can do for you *puts on Rasheed Wallace jersey*

    • Trash

      • A Girl Has No Name


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