In my mother’s household, Duke is a four-letter word.
A mention of the school warrants a bar of soap to the mouth. Wearing that shade of blue might have ended with a revocation of birthright. Yes, growing up on Tobacco Road meant a lot of things, and our education started early:
Duke is puke, Wake is fake, N.C. State is the team I hate. You can’t go to Heaven in a red canoe ‘cause God’s favorite color is Carolina blue.
Look, I hate Wake Forest and N.C. State too, don’t get me wrong, but today’s a special sort of day: the day Satan himself comes to town, dragging Coach K and six of his minions and also the other guys who sit on the bench before transferring.
When you grow up in North Carolina, the rivalry becomes inescapable. In order to solidify this, I turned to the homebred Tar Heels: Luke Maye and Theo Pinson.
Maye grew up the son of former UNC quarterback Mark Maye, who played at UNC from 1984-87. Growing up in a Carolina household, he says, it was always about Carolina.
“(Duke’s) a great school, had a lot of great players, a great coaching staff,” Maye said, trying to say the right thing before being a little more honest. “I was never really a big fan.”
Just like you and me, Maye grew up trash-talking his friends when the Heels won — and avoiding them when evil prevailed.
And people can change, apparently. How do I know?
Theo Pinson grew up a Duke fan.
That changed when he committed, of course.
“When I was little, I told myself and I told my parents just because I’m a Duke fan, that wasn’t going to determine where I went to school,” Pinson said, smiling. “Clearly.”
After pulling for the, um, “brotherhood” growing up, the Greensboro native has become a household name for the Tar Heel faithful. His play and likability earned him forgiveness from most, but maybe not from everyone.
Maye, his fellow North Carolinian teammate, was asked if he had any thoughts about his teammate’s former loyalties.
”No,” Maye said jokingly. “I don’t want to comment on that.”
Jokes aside, Theo is a part of the Carolina Family, regardless of his childhood fandom — even if my mother might want to wash his mouth out with soap.