Laettner: The World Didn't Hate Duke Basketball Before Me

Christian Laettner shared his thoughts on Duke, Duke hate, and what the media may have gotten wrong with Zion Williamson, among other topics

Tiki and Tierney
April 05, 2019 - 5:54 pm
Zion Duke

USA Today Images


If you’ve ever seen I Hate Christian Laettner, you know that a lot of people, well, hate Christian Laettner – and Duke in general. While the documentary delves into reasons behind that hatred, Laettner was never really bothered by it. In fact, he said he “takes it with a grain of salt” – even though he may have been the genesis of it.

“I don’t think the world hated Duke basketball before me,” Laettner said on Tiki & Tierney. “I didn’t know (about the hatred) before I went there. Duke, they were trying to get there, and they got (to the Final Four) with the ’86 team. But then there is something (to) overexposure.”

Twelve Final Fours and five national championships since 1986 would classify as overexposure, yes. Not that that’s Duke’s fault – or problem.

“You can’t help it,” Laettner said, “but I was working for ESPN, the ACC Network two weeks ago, and I think I heard one producer say, ‘The camera has got to be on Zion all the time. We got 22 cameras in this arena. Keep the cameras on Zion.’ That’s too much, and it happened to me a little bit in ’91 and ’92. Every time you saw Duke up on the screen, my stupid face was up there all the time. I’m like, ‘Go ahead and share the wealth (and show my teammates).’”

Laettner, of course, is one of the greatest players in college basketball history. He played in four Final Fours, won two national championships, and was National Player of the Year in 1992.

“The hate comes from overexposure or being there four years in a row,” Laettner said of his own experience. “Now, our overexposure happened because we were there four years straight. If the overexposure comes now, it can happen in four months because of social media and all that stuff.”

As for the aforementioned Zion Williamson, Laettner was in awe of the freshman this season, but he’s far from a finished product.

“I think Zion’s got to get a little more flexible,” Laettner said. “He’s so muscle-bound and so strong that if he slips, he might (get) hurt. He might pull his groin. So I think they got to increase his flexibility. He might be at 12 percent body fat now, and they might try to get him at maybe seven or eight percent. It’ll just get him a little lighter. Lighter and leaner and more flexible is good.”

Click below to listen to Laettner’s interview in its entirety.