Four years ago, following Duke basketballÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s weakest season since I enrolled there in 1997, my dad and I got really excited about the potential of the teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s incoming freshman class.
In late 2007, right after my second marathon, my dad — who isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really a sports fan, but got into Duke basketball when I started there — surprised me with Beckett-graded basketball cards he had won on eBay of Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler and Taylor King in McDonaldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s All-American jerseys. We arranged the cards under the glass of my coffee table with some other Duke cards weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve collected over the years, a sort of makeshift micro-Hall of Fame.
And we began to follow their careers together.
The texts and e-mails started rolling in on Wednesday, asking me how I was doing in the wake of Kyrie IrvingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s toe injury. They came from people who know how IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve followed KyrieÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s early career over the last year or so.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m obviously concerned, more for him than about anything else. As incredible a player as Kyrie has looked, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still a freshman. And I know what itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like to be a New Jersey kid at Duke, where a 500-mile difference can seem like 500,000 miles when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re alone.
Despite Mike Krzyzewski saying he could be out for the season, I have to hold on to hope that this year is going to have a happy ending for Kyrie. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s got a tremendous medical staff on his side, and the healing powers of youth.
But a part of me misses a simpler time, watching Kyrie do his thing at high school games at Kean University. And thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a part of him that deep down probably agrees with me.
The usual disclaimer: If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been here before, you know I went to Duke. And of course, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m excited for another year of watching Kyle Singler play, and I certainly donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mind that it makes the team a title contender again.
But truth be told, it seems like a very good move for him.
The simple thing would have been for the Final Four Most Outstanding Player to strike while the iron was hot and enter the NBA Draft. But just like his coach, Singler is going against the grain somewhat, and to me, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s doing the right thing.
The biggest reason for that is that all this lockout talk is messing with everyoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s heads.