Tom Sorensen

Short takes: In which the words Duke, Grayson Allen, trip and neutered appear

Dennis Smith Jr. (4) and N.C. State elbowed aside Duke and Grayson Allen (3) on Monday, 84-82, deepening the Blue Devils’ funk this season.
Dennis Smith Jr. (4) and N.C. State elbowed aside Duke and Grayson Allen (3) on Monday, 84-82, deepening the Blue Devils’ funk this season. ehyman@newsobserver.com

Duke guard Grayson Allen plays as if he’s been neutered. Technically he hasn’t been. He’s been told he has to play by the rules. Maybe that’s the same thing. What a long, strange trip it’s been.

The Blue Devils have lost more ACC games than they’ve won. They’re young, and they’ve been injured and their great head coach is recovering from surgery. But isn’t it strange to look at the standings and see them with more ACC losses than victories? They’re tied with Georgia Tech.

N.C. State, which had been playing as if it lacked a head coach, beat Duke at Duke. The Wolfpack has big-time talent. But until Tuesday, they looked more like a collection of individuals than a team. I don’t mean that they’re selfish. They’re not. But it’s as if every play they ran had just been created on a dry erase board.

▪  I watched “When We Were Kings” again Monday night. Released in 1996, it’s a documentary about the Rumble in the Jungle, the 1974 fight between invincible young George Foreman and presumably fading Muhammad Ali. The fear before the fight was not that Ali would lose. It was that he’d be seriously injured.

Foreman had only one trick, but it was a good one. He hit as hard as any fighter who ever lived.

This is how good the documentary is. When Ali entered the ring, I was pulling for him so hard and I almost fell out of the chair. If you need to remember Ali’s brilliance, watch “When We Were Kings.”

I still can’t believe the man is gone.

▪  If the Patriots win another Super Bowl, the trophy presentation ought to be compelling. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell skipped both of New England’s home playoff games this season. He will be in Houston for the Super Bowl. So will thousands of New England fans.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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