The reverberations of Cooper Flagg’s committing to Duke continue. On the positive side, former Blue Devil Jayson Tatum is pleased. The #3 pick in the 2017 pick had this to say about Flagg on his way to Dukedom: “It was great. Excited. He’s a hell of a player. He’s going to be in the league here soon. Happy for him and his family. Obviously, (I’m) happy for Duke, but it’s like, where else would you go? That’s where all the best players go.”
Then there’s this guy over at Slate, Luke Winkie, who apparently wanted to be the first to point out that Flagg is white and going to Duke: “Sure enough, while Flagg entertained an avalanche of recruitment offers from big-deal programs...he announced Monday that he’d taken the red pill and will be playing for the Duke Blue Devils—the widely loathed upper-crust crucible of mid-South rich kids and Caucasian hardwood prospects. It’s a turn of events that is inevitable, poetic, and supremely evil. Flagg is now both the latest in a long line of terrorizing, aesthetically oppressive white basketball players to pass through Duke and also, without a doubt, the biggest, strongest, and most athletically gifted talent to ever fit that specific mold. (He absolutely blows the sauceless, low-vertical fundamentals of a JJ Redick or a Christian Laettner out of the water.) In other words, Flagg is a Disney Channel Original Movie villain come to life.”
First of all, mid-South rich kids? it’s pretty clear that he hasn’t spent much time at Duke. The mid-South rich kids over in
Chapel Capel Hill like to poke fun at the number of Northerners enrolled at Duke and a quick glance at the Cameron Crazies will show you why Winkie’s racial characterization is, at best, ignorant or clumsy.
It’s also inevitable. Being a good White player at Duke isn’t the same as being a good White player at, say, UNC or Kentucky. Redick, Laettner, Wojo, Greg Paulus, Grayson Allen - that’s just part of the deal.
Still, you’d hope people who write for a living would do better work. But, as Jay Bilas says, people don’t hate on bad teams. We look forward to the Age of Flagg at Duke and the haters will just have to get over themselves.
And we should mention this too. Winkie mocks Laettner and says that Flagg blows him out of the water. Well, as a high school player, sure. And he’ll probably only be at Duke for one year. But love him or hate him, think he’s not talented or whatever, all Laettner did was destroy other teams and enrage other fan bases, who could do nothing about it. He was ruthless and arrogant and - Winkie may be too young to understand this - utterly feared.
We’re thrilled that Flagg will be at Duke. But like every player, reputation will only take you so far. He has to prove that he belongs. Laettner not only proved that he belonged, he so thoroughly terrified people that they’re still talking about him, and not just Kentucky fans - and he graduated in 1992.
Not bad for a guy with sauceless, low-vertical fundamentals.