We’re just toe-deep into the NIL era and a lot of people have written a lot of things about the new age of college athletics, including wondering who would have done well in earlier times if they had had NIL.
Everyone points to Zion Williamson of course. His Instagram following alone would have translated into big bucks.
But over at CBSSports, Matt Norlander makes a great point: what about Laettner?
Christian Laettner would have cleaned up. Aside from the winning, aside from playing for Duke, which is going to be a big deal in the NIL era, and aside from his unquestionable mystique, there’s no way around this: despite his sometimes difficult personality, Laettner looked like a model. He was a genuine pretty boy with layer upon layer of complexities.
People don’t remember it now, but at the height of that era, Duke was a basketball version of Beatlemania. At one point - we don’t remember what game - they actually put Bobby Hurley in an equipment bag and brought him out that way to avoid a mob of fans.
Laettner might have made more at Duke than he did with his rookie contract in the NBA.