C-T Experts: Should Duke Retire Kyle and Nolan's Jerseys?


Kyle and Nolan--Blueplanetshots.com

Kyle and Nolan hoisted a lot of trophies together at Duke. Should Duke hoist their jerseys to the rafters? (courtesy of DukeBluePlanet.com)

Should Duke retire Nolan and Kyle’s jerseys?

by Brandon Godwin

It’s a simple question, but the answer is very complex.

Current Conversation on the Web

On a straw poll of 100 Duke fans, no doubt that at least 90% would answer in the affirmative –Retire their jerseys! But we often over-value the present to the devaluation of the past.

Duke fan and media forums have picked up the topic as well, as have a number of local, regional, and even some national media sources.
After spending multiple hours over the last couple months reading through forums and Web articles, here’s what I’ve discovered. Most people are reasoning whether Nolan and Kyle’s jerseys should/shouldn’t be retired based on the following factors:

1. Career Stats & Rank

2. Comparison to other Duke jersey retirees

3. Rabid fan emotion

A Different Measuring Stick

One problem, though — what if numbers and statistical comparisons aren’t the main criteria in measuring whether to retire a player’s jersey or not? What do I mean? Well, it’s “known,” almost as folklore or legend, in the Duke community that there are two main criteria for a player having his jersey retired.

Graduation and National Honors

Players like Elton Brand were no doubt headed for jersey retirement, but chose not to stay four years. Other players like Trajan Langdon had four good years, but no national honors to show for it (only 2nd team All-America).

Let’s define “National Honors“– (a) 1st Team All- America (b) National Player of the Year (c)National Defensive Player of the Year
(2nd/3rd team All-America as well as Conference or NCAA Tournament awards are not considered true national awards in this discussion.)

Kyle’s Resumé

A quick glance at Kyle’s resumé is quite impressive. He is top 5 in so many major stat categories (scoring, rebounding, etc.), including being only the 4th player in Duke history to score 2,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds. Obviously, winning the championship in 2010 sets him and Nolan apart from many other Duke classes.

Potential Problem – No national award. If this is really a requirement for jersey retirement,how does Singler’s get retired? Maybe it’s an unwritten rule that is more of a guiding principle.Honestly, I’ve never found anything written in stone. But the legend says it’s necessary.

Nolan’s Resumé

All statistical discussions aside, since one of the only statistical categories he breaks the top10 is in FT percentage, Nolan had a dominant senior season. One could argue Kyle never had adominant season (though 2010 was darn good).

Nolan already has a national award with the 1st team All-America honor. He’s also a candidatefor several NPOY awards.

Potential Problem: Career stats

Note: Merely winning a national award and graduating do not guarantee jersey retirement at Duke.

(Bob Verga & Chris Carrawell won 1st team AA honors; Tommy Amaker and Steve Wojciechowski won NDPOY honors)

Note: Every player to graduate and win National Player of the Year has had his jersey retired.

Decision Time!

So, where do I land?

Nolan and Kyle, other than sharing the National Championship, have had very dissimilar careers–Singler, the ultra-consistent 4-year standout player, and Smith, the ever-evolving player withthe dominant senior season and the All-America nod.

Package Deal? I wouldn’t be surprised if Nolan and Kyle are a package deal, meaning, either they both get retired, or neither does.
I mean, if only one goes, how do you distinguish between them? Nolan has the national award with the outstanding season, while Singler has the career stats.

Only time will tell. Regardless, Nolan and Kyle will forever be two of the most beloved Duke players.

Brandon Godwin is the first writer in our Crazie-Talk Experts series. (#CTexperts on Twitter). Check him out on his Twitter–he’s an excellent Duke fan like (most of) you.

Check Crazie-Talk every Friday for a new #CTexperts article. Our loyal readers will discuss Duke, the ACC, the NCAA, and all the greatness of college basketball.

5 thoughts on “C-T Experts: Should Duke Retire Kyle and Nolan's Jerseys?

  1. It’s really too hard to tell. Emotion tells me they should be retired, given everything they’ve meant to the program, both on and off the court. But I also believe that there should be a pretty firm criteria for retiring jerseys so that we don’t run out anytime soon. It still has to be a really special thing.

    The one thing I absolutely agree with is that it’s a package deal, both or neither. There’s no way to really get around that.

  2. Very interesting read, You make great points for retirement of jerseys, but again what is the criteria. I’ve never known myself except that it is and should remain high so as not to lessen those that hang there now. I feel in the end,and in my heart that both their numbers should hang in the rafters, because while you can measure facts, stats and compare all the numbers you want you can not measure heart, but if you could these two certainly would make that measure.

  3. There shouldn’t even be a second thought about this. Singler a 4 year started 3 time acc tourney champion National champion and MOP of 2010 Tourney! avg double figures all 4 years! Top 10 all time on Duke scoring list. Came back when he could have be a lottery pick last year for his senior year which without a doubt got Smith to return. He’s jersey deserves to be retired.
    Nolan smith same thing minus MOP but was acc poy. He Carried Duke this year when Irving was out and singler struggled. Without Nolan this year would have be bad. Put they jerseys up there.

  4. Duke has retired 13 jerseys, listed to the side. To be eligible to receive this honor at Duke, a player must graduate from Duke University and also be recognized at the national level (such as be named National Player of the Year or Defensive Player of the Year, set an NCAA record, or be named as an All-American).

  5. (Author comment)


    Naming all of Kyle’s accomplishments shows the incredible effect he had on the Duke program during his four years.

    The main question is, though, what if stats & conference awards aren’t the main criteria? It’s certainly important and valuable on some level, but if it isn’t the main issue at hand, those may not matter. We’ve had other players stack up some achievements like that, including Jon Scheyer, Chris Carrawell, Trajan Langdon, etc.)

    I like your thoughts, but I would question the absolutism of saying “don’t even give it a second thought.” I just don’t think it’s that easy, though, emotionally, as a Duke fan, I wish it were.

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