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How Mark Mitchell Got To Wear Art Heyman’s #25

It’s an unusual but not unprecedented move.

Duke University vs University of California Los Angeles, 1964 NCAA National Championship
College Basketball: NCAA Final Four: Duke Art Heyman (25) during game vs UCLA at Municipal Auditorium. Kansas City, MO 3/21/1964
Set Number: X9899

Before Mike Krzyzewski arrived at Duke and transformed the program into an annual national power, the late Art Heyman defined the program’s high point.

He was a very different sort of a player than what we’re used to today. At 6-5, he was essentially a power forward, someone who could just bully his way inside. That’s not something you see often anymore. He was also a real bon vivant who loved living it up. His personality really defined the early Bubas era: fun loving and high powered.

He, more than anyone, is responsible for the intensity of the Duke-UNC rivalry. First he dumped the volatile Frank McGuire and went to Duke when McGuire was importing talent from New York and felt he owned the Big Apple and second, he kicked off a legendary brawl in Cameron in 1961 that sent the rivalry into the stratosphere.

His number 25 was retired in 1990 and Duke now has 13 retired jerseys, which leads to a potential problem: there are only so many numbers left.

It’s something that Duke ran into with Marvin Bagley, who requested to wear Danny Ferry’s retired #35, which Ferry agreed to. In Mark Mitchell’s case, Duke reached out to Heyman’s surviving relatives to ask permission, and it was given.

This is an interesting trend but with #4, #10, #11, #22, #23, #24, #25, #31, #32, #33, #35, #43, #44 in the Cameron rafters, it may pop up more frequently.

We wonder if anyone will come along who loves the #32 and if they would dare to ask Christian Laettner’s permission and, just as interestingly, what he would say if he agreed. Maybe something like, okay...but you better win championships if you do.