The two-time NCAA champion at Duke and 1992 Olympic gold medalist chats with SI.com's Maggie Gray about ESPN's latest 30 for 30 documentary, I Hate Christian Laettner!
MAGGIE GRAY:A lot of people in your life believe it revved you up to be hated so much.
CHRISTIAN LAETTNER: It's not true, but there's only so much you can do with that type of vitriol and hate and dislike. You can't concentrate on it to where you can't sleep at night, so you may as well do something positive with it. When I was playing at the college level and in the pros, I tried to use [the hate] to my advantage. But when you're done playing then it does start to ... I'm not going to say hurt, but you don't want people running around saying they hate you.
MG:Would you have been as good if you didn't channel that hatred and funnel it out onto the court?
CL: I don't think so, because you need certain motivating factors at different times in your life. My freshman year I just wanted to be a starter and play; sophomore year we wanted to win a championship; junior year we finally won one; and then senior year the motivation was, Let's win it again and stick it to everybody because they don't want us to win and they're starting to hate us.
MG:After college, what was your proudest NBA moment?
CL: Proudest moment in the NBA was every second I was an NBA player. I loved it. The only thing that was hard and that I didn't appreciate was the media side of it. I was very bad at it, very naive. I made mistakes. There were times when I wasn't approachable and times when I didn't work with them the right way.
For more of Laettner's interview, plus the SI Now archive, go to SI.com/video
"When I was playing I tried to use [the hate] to my advantage."
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PETER READ MILLER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (LAETTNER)
ROBERT BECK/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PACQUIAO)
ROBERT BECK/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (MAYWEATHER)
DAMIAN STROHMEYER/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (RICE)
JOE ROBBINS/GETTY IMAGES (WINSTON)
OJO IMAGES RF/GETTY IMAGES (ROULETTE WHEEL)