Wizards

Hughes: Retiring Redick one of last vestiges of Duke-MD rivalry

Wizards

There have been few athletes in the history of sports to be as widely hated by opposing fans as J.J. Redick, at least among those who didn't do anything terrible to deserve it. Redick didn't say or do anything vile, he didn't cheat. He just went to Duke and played for Mike Krzyzewski.

Redick was also very, very good. And although those chanting his name at road arenas likely knew very little of his upbringing, he somehow embodied what everyone despised about Duke in the first place. Their players were good at sports and academics, therefore making them overachievers. Also, they probably came from money, private schools and the like.

Redick, in fact, didn't represent any of those things. As he described to Grantland in 2013, he came from modest means and grew up in "the middle of nowhere, Virginia."

Fans around the country didn't let facts get in the way, not during Redick's legendary college career or during his 15 years in the NBA, which came to a close with his retirement on Tuesday. He got booed just about everywhere, even in Charlotte, relentlessly in fact. That was despite him playing his college ball in the same state. Those fans were likely partial to UNC.

Few fans probably hated Redick more, however, than those in the D.C. area old enough to remember his time playing opposite Maryland in the ACC. And in a way, it's sad to see him go as his departure from the basketball world (at least as a player) marks one of the final steps towards erasing the Duke-Maryland rivalry from modern day existence. The last will likely be this spring when Coach K is set to retire.

 

Redick won't be the last Duke star left in the NBA who played against Maryland, but he might as well be. There are technically eight NBA players who were on the Duke side of the rivalry, but guys like Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood just don't carry the same legacy around with them.

Redick was one of the greatest scorers in college basketball history and he played Maryland at least twice a year. Redick went 5-4 against the Terps, including a 35-point barrage in his final meeting against them, a Duke win in February of 2006.

He was a great player and he fully embraced the role as a Duke villain. Redick leaned in so far he later admitted regretting doing so.

But in Maryland fans, he found his match. There are some infamous stories of fans in College Park taunting Redick with details about his family and personal life. In a way, it went beyond normal sports rivalries.

That, though, is how it was between Duke and Maryland before the latter left the ACC in 2014 to join the Big Ten. At its peak in the early 2000s, it was widely hailed as one of the best rivalries in sports. Their games were routinely showcased on national television, while both teams won national titles and made multiple Final Fours during that time.

Locally, it was a huge deal. Duke-Maryland was up there with the Washington-Dallas Cowboys rivalry in the NFL and the Capitals and Penguins in the NHL.

But in the seven years since, Duke and Maryland's men's basketball teams haven't played each other a single time. They haven't met in the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge, nor have they crossed paths in the NCAA Tournament.

While the rivalry has gone dormant, Redick for years continued his basketball career at the NBA level. He enjoyed a long and successful career, one that would have justified a higher draft selection than where he went, 11th overall in 2006.

Redick was a college superstar and a good NBA player for a decade-and-a-half. And along the way, he reminded sports fans in the D.C. area of something many wish was still around.