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"I was an intellectual" — Shane Battier's take on why fans hated Duke players

Shane Battier was poked fun at because of his wrinkly scalp.
Shane Battier

Shane Battier

Christian Laettner, JJ Redick, Grayson Allen. This is the trinity of the most hated Duke players of all time. There are various reasons why they became the most reviled. Maybe because they were just levels above everyone else. Maybe they were tip-toeing the fine line between physicality and playing dirty. According to Shane Battier — also among the most hated Dukies — there's a psychological reason why people hated him and the likes of Laettner, Redick, and Allen.

The race card

Duke standout and basketball analyst Jay Williams believes that race played an intrinsic element.

"No other black player from any other school is hated as much as a white player from Duke," Williams said, per ESPN.

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Talking about Grayson Allen, Jay believes college fans hated his guts not just for his alleged dirty playstyle but because he doesn't look like your typical jock.

"What's that guy do? Finance? That's what you'd think if you saw him," current NBA analyst added.

Williams was part of the string of African-American stars who entered Duke post-Steve Wojciechowski and Christian Laettner. They were tormented, but not at the level of the white stars that preceded them. Williams claimed he was slammed because he wasn't white enough. Battier was poked fun at for his wrinkly scalp but was mostly given a free pass.

America's heroes and villains

His unorthodox treatment may have given Battier a different angle to parse and analyze this phenomenon. He echoed Williams' sentiments: race certainly played a part. But he stretched the conversation by connecting it to how the country perceived heroes and villains.

"America, in particular, likes their cowboys to wear white and their villains to wear black," Battier said. "When you buck that narrative, it confuses people. We confuse people. I was an intellectual dude that enjoyed more than basketball. Cooking, I liked to play golf, I know how to handle a microphone. That's against the narrative that sports fans want. And then guys like Grayson, we want our athletes to be this hulking, uber-athletic-looking person like LeBron [James]. [Allen] doesn't fit the idea, either."

It's an interesting take. Hatred may look illogical at face value. Some may trace it to personal insecurity. But Battier raises a very good point. Race almost always plays a key part in how Americans live their lives — whether walking along a street or watching a college game. More often than not, it is at the cost of someone else. 

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