It’s mid-March, which means an annual right of spring is upon us. It’s time for March Madness, a.k.a. the college basketball tournament. Even President Obama has weighed in on his picks, and chances are that you know many a soul invested (in one way or another) in the outcome of these games.
In addition to the whirlwind of around-the-clock games as the teams get winnowed from 64 to 1, this year brings a special addition: an ode to the one-time love of my life, Christian Laettner. In case you were not a fan of Duke basketball in the 90s (or a fan of teenaged basketball player hotness) as I was during my high school years, Laettner may have eluded your notice. But, while you were doing more important things, Christian Laettner became the most clutch player in Final Four history and an all-around sensation (not to mention nabbing a coveted spot on People’s 50 Most Beautiful People list, a photo of which hung on the back of the door to my childhood bedroom for years).
Laettner also became the focus of a great amount of ire (the reasons for which eluded me, as his greatest fan), and now a documentary has been produced about him, entitled “I Hate Christian Laettner.” It is an in-depth look at the reasons people both loved and hated Laettner, with interviews with Laettner himself and many of his former teammates, coaches, and rivals.
I’m mid-way through it and it’s not only riveting– it is a walk down memory lane. I am reminded of the intense passion for the sport and for Duke’s team my brother and I exhibited in our youth (not to mention the intense passion I had for Laettner himself, who seemed to be all things awesome to me at the time).
And now he’s a 40-something professional basketball player of yesteryear. I, too, have moved on from the drama of my high school days. But some things never change. I love Christian Laettner. There, I said it. Maybe it’s just because he reminds me of a wonderful time I shared with my little brother. And maybe it’s because. . . well, he’s amazing.
I Hate Christian Laettner is being replayed on ESPN. You can also see the whole documentary on YouTube. And his former team is scheduled to play my alma mater, Georgetown, in the tournament this year. So, my allegiances are about to change.