They were the first team in 19 years to repeat as NCAA men's basketball champions and the April 13, 1992 cover of Sports Illustrated summed up the state of Duke basketball at the time with a succinct headline:
That Duke team -- fascinating, polarizing and never dull -- will be the subject of a new documentary, "Duke '91 & '92," that will air on truTV next March before the NCAA tournament.
"Whether you liked us or not, you saw us," said Grant Hill, then an All-America forward and one of the executive producers of the project along with his fellow All-America teammate, Christian Laettner. "And we were there for four years so you had a chance to watch us grow and evolve. If you don't like Duke, I think you might come away liking the guys or respecting them a little bit better. I think you will see more dimension in terms of who we are and what we went through. It's been fun to be able to talk and reflect about happened when you were kids."
In an interview with SI.com Thursday evening, Hill said the documentary will cover Duke's 1991 and 1992 seasons and focus primarily on the '92 season which concluded with Duke's 71-51 victory over Michigan's Fab Five team. Hill said he believed that he and Laettner could produce a balanced documentary that was not merely an infomercial for all things Duke. "Obviously, things were not perfect that year," said Hill. "Things went on. Even though (we) were close to perfect in terms of our record, there are obviously always things that happen and are beneath the surface that the public did not know. A lot of that comes out. Was it always perfect? No. Was it hard? Yes. But it is a team, remarkably, people still talk about today."
Hill, now 39, said the main principals of those teams will appear in the documentary, including point guard Bobby Hurley (who appeared on SI's cover after the 1992 title game), Thomas Hill and coach Mike Krzyzewski. Laettner and Hill will appear on camera as well. (Editors note: Turner Sports is in partnership with SI.com and runs the site's business operations).
Much of the filming was done last month in Durham, N.C., during a weekend in which Hurley and Krzyzewski were inducted into the Duke Athletics Hall of Fame. Hill said his producing group (which includes director and producer Amy Unell, a former Today Show producer who worked with Hill on a previous documentary, Starting at the Finish Line: The Coach Buehler Story, and Madeleine Sackler, the director of the well-received documentary, The Lottery) still need to film Antonio Lang, who is coaching in Japan, and former Duke assistant coaches Tommy Amaker and Mike Brey, who are now coaching at Harvard and Notre Dame, respectively. The 20-year anniversary of the championship team, Hill said, seemed the proper milestone date for examination. "In terms of accomplishments and what he did in college basketball, I would put Christian up with anyone," Hill said. "Bobby was an all-time assist leader and obviously I feel I was able to bring things. Thomas Hill was a beast and we had a Hall of Fame coach. For whatever reason, that team connected with people and still connects today."
Hill said he is now evaluating whether the documentary will include interviews with Duke's opponents during those seasons. Would he consider Michigan's players, including Jalen Rose, who did not hide his disdain for Duke in ESPN's recent 30 for 30 documentary, "The Fab 5," which Rose co-produced? "I'd consider anything," Hill said. "Obviously, we played those guys and they were a great team and obviously, we talked about those games."
Rose's use of the phrase "Uncle Toms" in The Fab 5 prompted Hill to write a column for The New York Times in which he admonished Rose and defended Duke. Asked if this documentary is meant as a counterbalance to "The Fab 5," Hill said it was not.
"This is about us and what we were able to do and what we accomplished," Hill said. "It's not about retaliating or anything of that nature in any way, shape or form. It's not about anybody else or any other team. It's about us. You can believe me, or you can wait and see. But that is the sentiment of this. We're not into doing that. I'm not about that."