The Legend of Speedo Guy: a folklore so deeply ingrained within the fabric of Duke Basketball that it continues to inspire legions of Crazies to this very day. A mythical figure and patron saint, Speedo Guy lives on forever as a chapter in our fandom and as a relic of the greatest rivalry in all of collegiate athletics. And so in preparation for the challenge we face in the coming hours, let’s revisit the inspirational and heartwarming tale of a grown man in a speedo.
Patrick King was just your average graduate student here at Duke in the early 2000s. He went to classes, worked out in Wilson, ate at ABP and, of course, attended every basketball game he could in Cameron. Like most, he existed in relative anonymity. That is, until one fateful day in February 2003, a day not all that much different from today.
Duke was facing off against UNC in what had all the makings of an instant classic. Led by senior forward Dahntay Jones and freshman guard J.J. Redick, the Blue Devils were playing their best basketball of the season going into the first week of February and were anxious to take on their Tobacco Road rivals. Like so many of his peers, King made his way into the graduate student section that day and stood behind the Duke basket.
As in any match against UNC, a moral responsibility lay on the Crazies to hinder the Tar Heels by any means necessary. Unbeknownst to those around him, Patrick King had a plan in mind. With just over seven minutes elapsed in the first half of the game, King managed to coral every fan in his section to sit down just before UNC’s Jackie Manuel took to the free throw line. As Manuel stepped up to take his first foul shot, King tore off his clothing and, like a blooming flower, emerged triumphantly from the stands donning nothing but a scant, blue speedo. Dancing, flailing his arms, pelvic thrusting, Patrick King made his statement to Jackie Manuel, as if to say, "You have met your match, sir."
Manuel missed both free throws. Duke won the game 83-74.
Patrick King is no mythical hero. He's just a normal dude who did what he could to help his team win. He used his creativity to spontaneously make Cameron Indoor Stadium history and cement himself in the symposium of greatest Duke fans. In addition, the other graduate students were willing to help out one of their own, and are just as much a part of the story as the Great Speedo himself. Creativity, spontaneity and collaboration: these are the three tenants that define the Crazies.
As I reflect on the current state of our basketball fandom, I can’t help but muse over the legacy of Speedo Guy and our failings as the latest iteration of Duke fans. It’s no secret that enthusiasm and attendance for Duke Basketball games has decreased over the last decade, but I must ask, when did the Crazies stop being crazy? When did it become acceptable to stand passively in the student section scrolling through a newsfeed? Why do we dismiss the offbeat cheers of those in our vicinity rather than join in and encourage them? Are we scared of being judged by others? Do we fear rejection from our peers if we demonstrate overt passion? Why do we fear the creation of new traditions? When did we lose our creativity and spontaneity? What makes us hesitant to collaborate?
It is imperative for our success tonight and for the future of Duke basketball that we rediscover what has made us the best student section in all of college sports. Put down the Line Monitor’s “cheat sheet” with a finite delineation of cheers. Bring in something of your own! Encourage those in your area to go along with something provocative or witty. Tomfoolery should spread throughout stadium like the college flu. Take ownership of your Cameron experience! Don’t passively drift through your time here and take what you are given. Forge traditions of your own! There is room enough for another obnoxious roar in our already extensive repertoire.
Duke basketball is the one thing on this campus that unites all of us. In Krzyzewskiville and in Cameron, we are not defined by our affiliation, year, major, race or gender. Once we step onto the muddy lawn outside Wilson, and into the stands of Section 17, we are one. United by our loathing of an inferior institution and basketball program and our adoration of Mike Krzyzewski, we stand together prepared to do whatever is necessary to help our team win.
Tonight, let’s don our own speedos. Let’s get creative. Let’s help each other out. Let’s make traditions of our own. Go To Hell, Carolina. Go To Hell!
Grant Besner is a Trinity Sophomore who one day aspires to operate his own alpaca farm. His column, “you said duty,” runs on alternate Thursdays.
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