J.J. Reddick Says He’s Sick of the ‘White Duke Villain Myth,’ but He Should Consider This Angle 

If people think that Duke University sometimes goes out of its way to position white basketball players as the face of the franchise, and that that exalting has no merit, then yes, there’s going to be some backlash.

Former Duke University Blue Devil J.J. Reddick holds his jersey after it was retired during halftime of Duke’s game against the Florida State Seminoles at Cameron Indoor Stadium Feb. 4, 2007, in Durham, N.C.
Former Duke University Blue Devil J.J. Reddick holds his jersey after it was retired during halftime of Duke’s game against the Florida State Seminoles at Cameron Indoor Stadium Feb. 4, 2007, in Durham, N.C. Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

During a podcast, J.J. Reddick—the white Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard from Virginia who was once the face of Duke basketball during his successful tenure with the program in the early 2000s—said that he’s sick of the media perpetuating the “white Duke villain myth.”

“I think it’s fine for an opposing fan base to choose a player to root against, or maybe you dislike certain guys,” Reddick said. “My issue, though, is I think the media has perpetuated this white Duke villain myth as much as anyone.”

He’s talking about the media dictating which white basketball player from Duke people should hate on, because of the perception that the school is elite and is hell-bent on maintaining its pristine image by heavily recruiting white basketball players.

And if it does recruit black players, there’s the idea that they’re usually from middle-class and upper-class communities. People usually point to former Duke and NBA player Grant Hill as an example.

A lot of this was addressed in ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary about the Fab Five, and then again in the 30 for 30 special about Christian Laettner—another widely hated white baller who was the face of Duke basketball in the early 1990s.

Reddick said that there’s nothing wrong with disliking an athlete because of his or her antics on the court, but that he always sensed that the hate against white ballers from Duke was deeper, and manufactured by the media to continue the tradition of hating white Duke players.

He rattled off a bunch of white Duke basketball players who he said are genuinely good guys: “Grayson [Allen] is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. Jon Scheyer is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. Never seen Jon Scheyer do anything dirty. Greg Paulus, one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.”

Reddick said that he understands some of the hate he gets, though, but that’s because he was anticipating the backlash and reacted accordingly.

“I probably, in a way, brought on some of the animosity towards me with the antics, the smiling, the head-bobbing, the trash-talking, but to be honest with you, it was more in reaction to the hate that was already coming my way before I ever really did anything to warrant it. It’s almost like every time there’s a player at Duke, the media says, ‘Oh, you should dislike this guy,’” he continued.

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