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Jay Bilas Discusses Duke-UNC as the Best Sports Rivalry, and Marcus Smart

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ESPN broadcaster and former Duke guard Jay Bilas joined Jeff Thurn on Thursday’s edition of Overtime.

Bilas (@JayBilas) is currently an ESPN broadcaster and analyst. Before joining broadcasting, he was a four-time starter at Duke. He amassed 1,062 career points in 127 career games played for the Blue Devils.

Bilas discusses if the Duke and North Carolina contest moved to February 20 has less interest this year:

“I don’t think so. I don’t think that rivalry relies on one team to be as good as the other or both be in the top 25. Some of the great games that rivalry has had came when one team was struggling a little bit. And North Carolina a very good NCAA tournament team; they’re going against good teams. I don’t see it being dependent on both being at the top of the poles.”


Bilas on if UNC-Duke is the best rivalry in sports:

“I don’t know. I think it is. You know some people say Auburn-Alabama, but it’s one most people get to go for. I grew up in Los Angeles and I am a big Dodger fan. I watched the Red Sox-Yankees, and I don’t particularly care about it. I watch it. People seem to get really motivated about Duke-Carolina. So, at least from a fan interest, that one seems to resonate a lot.”


Bilas on his initial reaction to Marcus Smart pushing a fan last Saturday night:

“He’s going to get suspended. My initial reaction was what was it going to cost him to do that because I’ve been around him a little bit. All the things I know and have heard about him, that was so out of character, and when you think about it, it was so rare that kind of thing ever happens. Sadly, it’s not rare with the fan, but when a player reacts to it, that’s pretty rare. I was not surprised by the initial reaction by people, I mean when the suspension was handed out, and the suspension was fair, I thought it was fair to be three games. I was glad it wasn’t more, and I think it would have been less, it would have opened it up for people to be critical. But then people got reasonable because he pushed a guy. It wasn’t that big of a deal. If it would have happened on the street, he’d be in jail. No he wouldn’t. If it happened in the concourse, everyone would have gone about their business and noticed. It’s not that big of a deal, but I think it’s pretty clear players aren’t allowed to do that. Coaches aren’t allowed to do that. The fans are the paying customers, and the one’s pocketing all the money are not going to allow that. But it does start a healthy conversation that we should have and it’s not just college sports, it’s pro sports. It’s increasingly difficult to tell the difference. Fans can say whatever they want, and I do think no matter what the fan said, that a player shouldn’t do that, and it’s wrong. There’s no excuse for it. I think any fan that thinks they know what was said, or what was alleged to be said was which worse, shouldn’t be surprised if somebody gets in your grill. I do think some of these places need to do better jobs of policing their fans, especially, if colleges are going to continue to tells us it’s about education, the student-athlete, and this business. Then, they ought to put them in a better environment.”

To hear the rest of Bilas’ interview with Thurn, listen below:

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Be sure to catch Thurn on Overtime on Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. to kick-off your weekend!


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