Today is a nice day for Duke fans. The Deadspin staff is not unmoved by this, so we thought we might share one of our favorite memories involving a Duke player.
As the story goes, Elton Brand—having just played in the national championship game against UConn and won the John R. Wooden Award as the most outstanding player in the country—was leaving Duke after two seasons to enter the NBA draft, where he would be drafted No. 1 overall by the Chicago Bulls. One intrepid Duke alumnus wrote to Brand regarding his decision:
From: Taylor, Jennifer
Sent: Friday, April 16, 1999 2:55 PM
To: Brand, Elton
Subject: Leaving Duke
I graduated from Duke last May and just wanted to express my disgust for your decision to leave the Duke program after only two years. As an alum, not only do I hold the school in high regard, but the basketball program as well, especially since both have deservedly garnered such a great deal of respect for their accomplishments.
As part of our basketball program, you represent Duke as a whole. We are first and foremost an academic school, you clearly did not belong at Duke in the first place if this was the extent of your commitment to Duke and a college education in general. You have not only insulted the current students who are putting in four years at a school they love, but also the thousands of alumni who have realized the value of a Duke education and what an honor and privilege it was to be there for four years.
If you do not realize the opportunity you has infront of you to play for Coach K and at the same time attain a Duke diploma, then that is certainly your loss. I just wish that you has spared us the notion that you were continuing in the tradition of being a Duke student-athlete, in emphasizing excellence in both academics and athletics. You will not be considered part of the Duke family, in my mind as well as many others. You have by no means proved yourself worthy of that title.
And Elton’s response, which he later confirmed that he’d written:
From: Elton Tyron Brand
Sent: Sunday, April 25, 1999 8:05 PM
To: Taylor, Jennifer
Subject: Re: Leaving Duke
Thank you very much, for reminding me of the reason why I left Duke. People like you can not and will not ever understand my situation. I’m sure daddy worked very hard to send your rich self to college. While real people struggle. I would also like to extend an invitation for you not to waste your or my time ever agin. Never being considered a part of your posh group of yuppies really hurts me to the heart. Yeah, right. Because I don’t care about you or your alumni.
Elton Brand #42 NBA