Considering Christian Laettner's history as one of the most successful, and derided, Dukies of all-time -- a symbol people have used to characterize Duke's basketball program, both positively and negatively, ever since -- it's funny to hear that it almost didn't happen. UNC fans, get ready for this, because your entire worldview is about to explode. Laettner was almost a Tar Heel.
Sure, Laettner always wanted to go to Duke. But in an interview with Devils Illustrated, the former All-American revealed that his mother was so upset her son chose Coach K over Dean Smith she openly wept:
"My second choice would've been Carolina. And when I told my mother I was going to Duke and not Carolina, she just cried and that made my decision process a little harder. But I still went with what felt right and it ended up working out well for me."
"She's happy about the decision now, but she really liked Dean Smith because one of his strengths was that he was really good at connecting with the parents and letting them know that he'd take really good care of their son. He was really good at it. She liked him a lot, but in the end, she ended up not regretting my decision at all."
First of all, Laettner is either the most resilient son of all-time, or his heart is as cold as ice. Have you ever seen your mother cry? Worse, have you ever made your mom cry? I think it's happened to me, like, twice, and it might be the most brutal thing ever. You never want to make Mom cry.
What's even more interesting is the notion that Laettner could have been a basketball player for the University of North Carolina. This historical hypothetical is fascinating. If Duke doesn't get Laettner, they almost certainly don't win the title in 1991 and 1992, which in turn sets Duke's rise to the college basketball elite back by who-knows-how-many years. Tar Heels fans adopt Laettner as one of their own. Instead of starting a company called Blue Devil Ventures, Laettner founds Tar Heel Ventures and becomes a fixture in the Chapel Hill community in the decades after his retirement from the NBA.
Wake up, Tar Heels fans! It was just a bad dream. Everything is OK. Laettner was a Dukie. Your world is still intact.
(Hat tip: The Dagger)