Celebrated and vilified, Christian Laettner was without question the most polarizing player in NCAA history. ESPN’s wildly popular 30 for 30 documentary, “I Hate Christian Laettner” is proof enough. Whether a fan of Duke, North Carolina or Kentucky, one thing all can agree on is that the root of such intense hatred and envy came down to one word: success. And no player had more success during their four years of college basketball than the 6’ 11” center from upstate New York. White, good-looking, seemingly privileged (although his blue-collar background says otherwise), and exceptionally talented with unabashed confidence bordering on sheer arrogance, Laettner was the perfect spokesperson for Duke Basketball, the perfect recruit for Coach K, and the ideal target for haters. From 1988 to 1992, Christian Laettner put together perhaps the most decorated NCAA resume ever: four straight Final Fours, two National Championships, two All-America teams, Naismith Player of the Year and just about every other major award handed out. No wonder everyone hated Christian. He was just too good, his team too dominant.
Presented here is the shooting shirt Christian Laettner wore his entire Duke career, Freshman through Senior year. According to his own acute memory, it’s the only white one of its kind he was issued in college. Photo research shows Duke players sporting this same style warm-up from 1988-89 through the ’91-92 season that completed Duke’s run of four straight Final Fours and back-to-back NCAA titles. This means that Christian could have worn this shirt while warming up for the 1990 NCAA Regional Final against UCONN or the 1992 NCAA Regional Final against Kentucky. In both scenarios, Duke trailed by one in overtime with two seconds left. In both scenarios, Laettner swished a game-winning jumper at the buzzer. “The Shot” to beat UK sealed a night of perfection: 10 for 10 from the field, 10 for 10 from the foul line, 30 points. The bigger the moment, the more clutch the performance.
Made by Champion and coming in size XX-Large, the white knit, short sleeve pullover garment has blue and white elastic trim on the V-neck collar and sleeve ends, with three striped slanted lines of the same color pattern running across the front. An arched “LAETTNER” is sewn directly across the upper back in blue tackle twill. Laettner has signed the right chest in bold black marker with his uniform No. “32” and “Duke” inscribed. The shirt displays outstanding evidence of wear, with heavy sweat staining around the armpits and a few holes/snags from wear-and-tear and continual use over four college seasons. Photo research backs up Laettner's claim that he wore this shirt as a Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior; he says it was the only one of this style issued to him during collage. Laettner can be seen wearing this same shooting shirt on March 8, 1992, when he was honored for Senior Night—his last home game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, fittingly against UNC. Laettner poured in 26 that night to lead the #1 ranked Blue Devils to an 89-77 win over their bitter rivals from Chapel Hill. The shirt is an extraordinary heirloom from arguably the greatest college career ever, having been worn that entire period. It comes directly from Laettner’s personal collection.
LOA signed by Christian Laettner. Autograph pre-certified by PSA/DNA.