clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Mary Dinkins 1950-2018

Duke loses a treasure

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Mary Dinkins Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

In 1991, when Duke won its first national title, the hotel in Indianapolis was crowded with people we’d never seen. It took about 20 seconds to realize that something fundamental had altered and would never be the same again.

Duke basketball, and later Duke sports in general, went from a small family atmosphere to something big time and more corporate. We stood in the lobby and looked at all these strangers in 1991 and understood that, as much as we might not like it, things could never go back again.

And that was fine. It was a natural tradeoff and we loved the success. We loved passing UNC and traumatizing Kentucky. Dominating UCLA was joyful and the same went for knocking off Georgetown and St. John’s and everyone else as Duke climbed to the top of the hill.

Even so, we also knew something special was passing. You could stand outside the locker room back in the day and talk to the players after the game. Kids could shoot around after everyone had left Cameron. You could get to know people around the athletic department like Tom Butters, Jack Persons and various other legends.

Among these was Mary Dinkins.

Mary Dinkins was one of those people you’re very lucky to meet in life. She was universally warm and beloved. When you were around her, you felt enveloped in warmth, love and a sense of optimism and possibility.

As is so often the case with people like that you assume they’ll always be there and so there’s a bit of a shock when you’re reminded, once again, that no one gets to stay forever.

And so it is with Mary, who passed away Tuesday.

She leaves behind many friend and countless people who she touched. She was wonderful and a tie back to the old days of Duke athletics. Things have changed and as we said, it’s a tradeoff. No one will trade the electric nature of Duke basketball today or the power and pride David Cutcliffe has bough to Duke football, not to mention the striking successes we have seen in golf, tennis, soccer and other sports, both men’s and women’s.

She was truly one of a kind, irreplaceable and her death is an immense loss to so many people. Duke was immensely lucky to have her and all of us were blessed to have known her. We won’t see anyone like her again anytime soon.


If you're going to shop Amazon please start here and help DBR
Check out our October '17 t-shirt! || Drop us a line