As the only Duke senior, Grayson Allen naturally was the guy who came out and took the microphone to speak after the big win over UNC Saturday night.
He spoke about the normal things - thanking his parents, his teammates and coaches and other people who helped him along the way.
And at some point, something special began to happen.
Grayson talked about when he first began to play basketball and how he did it because he just loved the game. He alluded to his struggles earlier in his career and said that for a while, he lost his love of the game.
Then he said that playing in Cameron, the fans helped him to rediscover his love of the game.
There was a lot unsaid there. Pain was alluded to, perhaps depression. By his own admission, a loss of joy. After his kicking incidents, he was humiliated and an object of national ridicule. Who would enjoy that?
It was a moment that underscored something we had sort of realized but not entirely: Grayson’s failings made him more human to Duke fans. He went on the road and was mocked and ridiculed. Cameron still embraced him and loved him and pulled for him. He realized it and thrived on it and loved back.
When he talked about a sign that someone had that said something like he never came back because he never left, the sign popped up near Press Row. Grayson stopped talking for a minute and went over and asked for it. He trotted back out and went on about how much Duke had meant to him, his hands never leaving the sign.
Cameron has bonded with a lot of players. Shane Battier might be the all-time favorite there. Bobby Hurley was beloved. So was Grant Hill. So was JJ Redick. So was Quinn Cook, Jon Scheyer, the ebullient Nolan Smith and so many more.
We’re not sure anyone has ever bonded with Cameron in quite the way that Grayson Allen has.
After his speech, he went back around the student section, this time by himself, and high-fived the Crazies one last time.
Grayson might not play in Cameron again but it’ll never let him go. He’s going to be one of us forever.