With a few minutes left in the first half Smith became exasperated because a player of his wasn't promptly buzzed into the game. He approached the scorer's table, hoping to get someone to stop the clock. When play nonetheless continued, he impulsively tried to sound the horn himself. In his clumsiness he hit the wrong button and put 20 extra points on the board for the Tar Heels. In the ensuing pandemonium, Smith received no technical foul, and North Carolina went on to win. Afterward Krzyzewski was so angry that his pores spoke. "Our students had class, and our team had class," he said. "There was not a person on our bench who was pointing at officials or banging on scorer's tables.... So let's get some things straight around here and quit the double standard that exists in this league."
Perhaps it's coincidence, but within a week Krzyzewski, to that point 51-52 at Duke and prospective carrion for buzzardly boosters, signed a five-year contract extension. "When I first got into the league, I didn't want to hang our hats on a win over North Carolina," he says. "Hell, my first four or five years, how would we beat North Carolina? I wanted our own identity. But at that time there were two tiers in the ACC—North Carolina and everybody else. I felt people had fallen into the habit, subconsciously or not, of That's the way it is."
Since the Double Standard Game the series has been virtually even: 15-12 in North Carolina's favor. "So much good has happened to both programs since that [double standard] remark," says Al Featherston of the Durham Herald-Sun, who has witnessed more than 70 games between the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels since 1960. "You might say that Duke and Carolina have become the game's double standard."
Several years later another jolt of voltage coursed through the rivalry. "I consider Dean a friend, even if we don't smoke from the same pack of cigarettes," Krzyzewski said, making catty reference to Smith's habit, since kicked, of supporting the state's biggest cash crop. Around the same time signs saying J.R. CAN'T REID appeared at several of North Carolina's road games, targeting the Tar Heels' J.R. Reid, who is both perfectly literate and black. This angered Smith enough to move him to point out that the combined SAT scores of Reid and another black Tar Heel, Scott Williams, exceeded those of two white Duke players Carolina had also recruited, Ferry and Laettner. Smith has since said he was trying to make a point about the evils of racial stereotyping, but others believe there was more at play. "I think that remark was a sign that Duke was getting to him," says Barry Jacobs, whose book Three Paths to Glory chronicles the interplay between the two schools and N.C. State, which sits some 30 miles away in Raleigh. "It was very un-Dean-like to violate those kids' privacy."
That exchange set up the single most intense renewal of the series, the 1989 ACC tournament final in Atlanta. Carolina had gone seven years without winning the tourney title, and the Tar Heels had lost three times to the Blue Devils the year before, in what Duke folks still call the "Triple Crown Season." People who saw the game, which Carolina won 77-74 after Ferry's 75-footer at the buzzer hit the back of the rim, flinch when they recall it. At one point Krzyzewski, frustrated by the level of contact, screamed at Williams, "Don't foul so hard!"
Up got Smith. "Don't talk to my players!" he hollered.
At this point Krzyzewski turned to Smith and spewed forth a hard Anglo-Saxon monosyllable beginning with f, followed by the second-person pronoun.
There's no evidence that this utterance caused the earth to wobble on its axis. But it's probably safe to say that no one had ever before directed this combination of words at Dean Edwards Smith. And that it took a Duke man to do it is not lost on one erstwhile Blue Devil.
"We," says Art Heyman, with a nod to fellow carpetbaggers Doug Moe and Larry Brown, "started it all."
Down eight, 17 seconds to play. Those were the circumstances, resonant with history, that faced Duke in the first overtime on Feb. 2. It's precisely where North Carolina had stood 21 years earlier, and the Tar Heels had come back and won. So why would anyone doubt that the Blue Devils could do so too? The events of the evening so far had been improbable enough. Carolina had knocked down its first nine shots and taken a 17-point first-half lead after Stackhouse's free throw following that reverse windmill dunk. Then, after the half, Duke sank 12 of its first 14 shots to go ahead by nine. The Devils still led by nine late in the game, only to watch Carolina rally to force the first overtime.