Nolan Smith is a singular figure in Duke Basketball history.
We first realized just how charismatic he was at Countdown To Madness when he took the microphone and yelled “Are You Not Entertainted?!” That was of course Russell Crowe’s great line from Gladiator after he had been told to be more entertaining in order to win his freedom.
What we didn’t catch on to as quickly was just how far his influence spread. He became a beloved figure not just for Duke Basketball but in Durham, in many ways bridging the gap between Duke and Durham in ways that had not been done before.
In this article from the Duke Chronicle, Smith says this: “It definitely started when I was a player, just the embracement from the whole city. I was everywhere, I wasn’t one of those players that just stayed on campus. People always saw me, whether it was at North Carolina Central football games, basketball games, which is right in the heart of Durham over off Fayetteville Street.”
He’s going to be a hugely valuable asset for his former backcourt mate Jon Scheyer as Scheyer moves into the head coaching position, and he’s not going to be like any Duke assistant we’ve seen.
For one thing, Smith has launched a podcast, called “Power Check Ball,” which is dealing with basketball and sports but also with social justice issues. His co-host is Marc Isenberg and it’s available on Apple and Spotify.