At next week’s ACC tournament in Atlanta, former Duke standout player Kenny Dennard will inducted into the league’s Legends program, joining Kenny Smith of UNC and Todd Fuller of N.C. State in the 2012 class.
A native of King, N.C., Dennard was an all-state player at South Stokes High and played briefly in the NBA until he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1983.
Now a 30-year cancer survivor, Dennard is active in raising money for the Coaches vs. Cancer program.
Asked to share his thoughts about the future of the Duke-UNC rivalry, Dennard offered "a few" thoughts:
One of life’s constants growing up in Winston-Salem in the 1960s and King, NC in the ‘70s – a constant that has been with me through all my travels in the 1980s, ‘90s, and these 12 years into the new millennium – a constant that is known as The Duke-Carolina Rivalry.
Just think, black and white television, color television, color television with a wireless remote, cable television, satellite television, high definition television and now, 3-D television, have all evolved during this 50-year constant, and we now watch the Duke-Carolina game in higher resolution and with more replay control than ever before.
My buddy, Caulton Tudor, asked me to look out a mere ten years and imagine the rivalry, the ACC, the future. To begin I wanted to gain a better sense of history, so I Googled “Duke UNC Rivalry” and “2,700,000 results were found in 0.33 seconds.”
I channeled my alter ego, Dogstradamas, and fired up the crystal ball and peered into the orb to see that college basketball’s greatest rivalry had become something entirely transforming, something totally unbelievable.
In the year 2022, violence has been outlawed and corporations have replaced government as the ruling party following the demise of politics. With the absence of war or conflict, a forcibly passive population's bloodlust is only satisfied by what has become the world’s most popular and brutal sporting contest: The Duke-Carolina Basketball Game.
No wait, stop, I am channeling James Caan in the 1975 sci-fi thriller, Rollerball, on-demand on HBO! Whew, calm down, that was close!
Okay, I’m back. I actually see 2022 pretty clearly now: a retired Coach K who still holds the record for career wins at 1,057 – he and Mickie happily spending all their time hanging out with their grandkids; Wojo is the current Duke head coach and Jon Schreyer is his #1 assistant; UNC is coached by Buzz Peterson with Jason Capel his top assistant.
Feels familiar, feels good.
Oops, I see that the Dean Dome was severely damaged when hit by falling space debris in 2018 and was rebuilt with a magnetic force field to ensure that this never happens again. Visiting teams complain that these magnets are affecting their jump shots, but scientists can find no evidence to support these claims.
Duke still plays in Cameron Indoor Stadium, albeit updated with renovations all around the core nucleus of the Coach K Court and the student section.
These renovations include luxury suites on property, yet unlike any other suites in the country. These suites have no direct sight line to the playing surface, but rather are in secure bunker locations below Cameron and have supercomputer-driven holographic displays that give suitemates the feeling of actually being on the floor and in the game. Huge moneymaker for Duke!
With the comforts of home and global connectivity, some of these especially rich alumni go underground in November and don’t come back out until March! The Cameron Crazies call them “The Hibernati” and dream of their own suite one day.
In 2022, the NCAA is no more. College Football and Basketball have created separate and tiered national associations with new rules and more specified governance based on the individual sport’s needs. The ACC has evolved into one of four national basketball super-conferences that compete in “Tier One” of the FCBC – the Federation of Colleges with Basketball Centricity.
The reason the ACC kept its branding is due to the fact its member schools are in states that, if not on the Atlantic Coast, are in states east of the Mississippi interconnect by water that somehow touches the Atlantic Ocean
Bottom Line: the actual Duke-Carolina game is bigger than ever in 2022 and continues to live up to the super-hype each and every year!
The players still talk with absolute passion about how they cherish the opportunity to play in this game -- to one day hit the three, to make the big pass, to take the charge, to hit the free throw, to block the shot – to do something special that wins this game in front of the whole world, determining which shade of blue the tears will fall and creating a lifetime memory that lasts forever and ever, amen!
Then the crystal ball dimmed as quickly as it lit up. Tomorrow I am calling Mike Cragg, Duke’s Associate Athletic Director, to see what it’ll take to own one of these luxury suites, since I will be only 63 years old in 2022!
Dennard resides in Houston and is a founding partner in the national management consulting group Dennard Rupp Gray & Lascar, LLC. His first book “Back From the Frontlines,” is scheduled for publication later this year.