DURHAM, NC – Ever since I can remember, at least since Coach K came onto the scene, Duke has always had a player the rest of college basketball loves to hate.

Laettner. Wojo. JJ. Grayson Allen. The list goes on.

So there’s a certain badge of honor for Kyle Filipowski that comes with being the latest in the long line of royal blue succession.

There’s also a downside.

Membership in the club, or “Brotherhood,” if you will, requires skin thick enough to withstand the inevitable sticks and stones that will be hurled in your direction by those who view you as the face of an evil empire.

Filipowski has been the target of even more criticism than usual since being helped off the floor in the aftermath of last week’s court-storming controversy at Wake Forest’s Joel Coliseum. It only intensified when the Blue Devils’ big man was right back in the lineup for Wednesday’s game against Louisville.

He finished with 9 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists in 30 minutes of Duke’s 84-59 rout of the Cardinals.

The fact that he was on the court rather than in a body cast became the source of great consternation from the usual internet trolls and national media types alike.

None of them were in Winston-Salem for Saturday’s emotional loss, mind you. And their research into the incident consists mainly of a random screenshot or video. That hasn’t prevented the spread of a popular and predictable narrative.

Because he plays for Duke, Filipowski was immediately branded a sore loser who faked his injury out of frustration. His “miraculous” recovery that allowed him to return 4 days later without missing a game only proved their point.

It’s one thing to call the 7-foot sophomore soft or label him a whiner, which he has a tendency to be at times. Calling him a liar without having the proof to back it up, however, is way out of bounds.

“It’s been super crazy with everything going around,” he said. “Of course, I have my opinions. I try to keep to myself and not share too much, just because I’m trying to stay focused on the team and us winning, and not getting too wrapped up into what we did and what happened.”

That. of course, begs the question of what actually did happen last Saturday.

Filipowski was among the Blue Devils caught on the court as Wake Forest’s students flooded out of the stands in celebration of their team’s 83-79 upset victory. He was quickly engulfed by the surge of humanity as he attempted to escape into the tunnel leading to the locker room.

In the chaos, the Duke star came into contact with several onrushing fans.

It makes no difference who initiated the contact, although the issue has been debated at length on social media. Because the court is the exclusive domain of the players, coaches and officials, Filipowski had the right to defend himself.

I saw the incident from a distance in person and have watched multiple videos of it, taken from a number of different angles. And it’s clear that Filipowski was involved in a knee-to-knee collision with the first fan who reached him.

He started to go down immediately and was hit by another fan before teammates came to his rescue and helped him off the court.

You can say that Filipowski embellished his injury if you like. But if you’ve ever been involved in a similar collision to the one he endured, you’d know that Flip didn’t flop.

I have. And let me tell you, it’s something you’ll never forget.

It happened many moons ago during an over-30 baseball game. As I was turning a double play, my knee made contact with the knee of the runner sliding into 2nd. It felt as though I’d been hit with a sledgehammer.

Think Nancy Kerrigan and Jeff Gillooly.

But as intense as the pain was, it only lasted for a couple of hours. Once it subsided, it was as if nothing had happened.

That’s how Filipowski described the progression of his injury when asked about it on Wednesday.

“It was sore for the rest of that day and a little bit in the morning. But I was feeling much better after that,” he said. “The last 24 hours I’ve been feeling great. I’m very thankful I was able to play (in the Louisville game).”

He’ll be just as thankful to put the entire episode behind him.

“I did my best to stay off social media and stay locked in with the team, with the guys and just focus on what’s lying ahead,” Filipowski said. “We have such a bright future and we can do great things. Just being able to do that would be the greatest thing to show the whole world.”

Some of the accusations being thrown around might have to do with the fact that Duke coach Jon Scheyer originally reported that his star had suffered a sprained ankle.

At that point, he had yet to consult with either Filipowski or the Blue Devils’ training staff. Scheyer later amended his comment to reflect the accurate nature of the injury.

It was a misstatement not a conspiracy.

But that’s irrelevant.

Facts rarely matter when they interfere with a good narrative. Especially one about a Duke basketball player everybody loves to hate.