With the decade winding down, Sports Illustrated’s “2000s: The Decade In Sports” is intended to be “your portal to our look back at all of it — the dominant athletes, greatest games, biggest stories, fiercest rivalries, stunning upsets, spectacular flops, most brilliant minds, record-breaking performances and more.”
Below is a list of the many appearances that Duke athletes, teams and coaches made on the review of the decade:
Duke came in as the No. 22 overall program among teams in the four major professional sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB and the NHL) plus college football and men’s and women’s college basketball. The big elephant in the room, though: North Carolina came in at No. 10. Sports Illustrated lists the Blue Devils’ drawbacks as a program in the last 10 years:
Drawbacks: For most programs, one NCAA title and two Final Four appearances would be a tremendous decade. But Duke accomplished all that from 2000-03. Since 2004, Duke hasn’t advanced past the Sweet 16 despite being a top-two seed four times.
Top 10 Scandals
The Duke Lacrosse prosecutorial misconduct came in No. 4 on the list behind BALCO, the Mitchell Report/MLB’s 2003 Doping list and Michael Vick’s dogfighting ring. Durham County D.A. Mike Nifong, Sports Illustrated notes, became the first sitting D.A. in North Carolina history to be disbarred after having “obscured or ignored potentially exculpatory evidence”. The case caused a media frenzy: ”the bully pulpit was set for anyone who wanted to push a national conversation about race relations, socioeconomic stratification, sexual assault, town-gown relations or uber-macho sports culture.”
Listed in “The Funny” section of the best quotes of the decade, this one wasn’t said by anyone in the Duke program, but it does have to do with head coach Mike Krzyzewski. The NBA’s Shaquille O’Neal, after being traded away from the Lakers in 2004, made fun of the idea that Krzyzewski might have replaced Phil Jackson as the coach the Los Angeles franchise.
“Phil [Jackson] took us to the Finals [four] out of the five years, and you want to fire him and bring in Mike Krzyzewski? Come on, man. That’s like being married to J-Lo, then dropping J-Lo for a girl that’s 5-10, 480 pounds.”
– Shaquille O’Neal, Heat center, on his former team the Lakers’ pursuit of the Duke coach in 2004.
The Blue Devils actually made two appearances in this category. Duke’s rivalry with North Carolina made the list, although to the chagrin of Blue Devil fans, Sports Illustrated notes that the Tar Heels have gotten the better of the rivalry recently: “But the Tar Heels have returned to the top, with three Final Fours and two national championships since 2005 and a 7-2 record against Duke.”
Also, J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison’s personal rivalry—despite the fact that the two never played a college game against each other—also earned a spot. During the peak of the rivalry in the 2005-06 season, Morrison captured the NCAA’s scoring title, but Redick won the Naismith and Wooden awards.
On the list of top 10 flops, the Blue Devils came in at No. 1. Their apperance on this list, though, is a bit strange when one takes a look at the rest of the rankings. Sports Illustrated notes that the way in which the Blue Devils have flopped is “on the court in the most literal sense possible” but claims that in terms of success Duke hasn’t been a flop. If that’s the case the site is making, why is it topping a list of underperforming teams, coaches and players? (See: 2004 U.S.A. Basketball team, Barry Zito, Charlie Weis and Darko Milicic)
Former Duke Football head coach Steve Spurrier also made the list, but for his effort as coach of the Washington Redskins. With a 12-20 record before quitting, that one makes a lot more sense.
Duke was featured in two of the best Sports Illustrated photos of the decade. The first is from a Duke-North Carolina women’s basketball game, and the second a photo of Duke Lacrosse’s Max Quinzani in the first game the Blue Devils played following the Duke lacrosse case.
In addition to “The 2000s: The Decade in Sports”, Sports Illustrated also featured in on college basketball and put together a number of lists—including an All-Decade team and a list of signature moments. For more information about those lists, click here.