One Shining Moment

Being that I’m the secretary of basketball and all, it would be pretty shameful of me to not put up a National Championship post. So here it goes.

Before I begin, here are some articles that might be of interest. None of them are particularly journalistic, but I figure most of you already know what happened last night. This first one is a Final Four blog by Eric Neel, one of my favorite page 2 writers for ESPN. This next one is just a shoutout to Ken Pom, whose blog I’ve followed religiously since the begining of the season. If you want unbiased analysis of a college basketball game, this is where you go. And last but certainly not least is from Adam Lucas, whom most of you probably know because he writes amazing articles for tarheelblue.com, and this one is no exception.

I want to start by saying thank you. Thank you Roy, thank you Jawad, thank you Jackie, thank you Melvin, thank you Rashad, thank you Raymond, thank you Sean, thank you David, thank you Marvin, thank you Quentin. And thank you to every single person that put your blood, sweat, and tears into that team. Thank you for making my freshman year better than it would have been without you.

When McCants put up his first three of the night, I knew. I watched it clank off the rim, flutter around a second or two, and fall through the net with a gentle swooshing motion. I knew right then and there that it was our night, it was our year, it was our time.

I watched the game in the Dean Dome as so many of us did (9,500 to be exact), and I was in awe of the energy. It felt as if we were actually there, as if our cheers were pushing us to victory. I’ve taken physics classes before, so I’m well aware of the limitations of sound and distance. But I swear to you, they heard us in St. Louis. There’s no way they couldn’t have.

When the final seconds ticked off the clock and nothing but zeros and a five point lead remained, the energy, the joy, the excitement—it was all too much. The only way I can explain it and even come close to capturing the way it was is to call it organized insanity. I watched tears roll down cheeks. I watched people rip off their shirts and swing them around wildly with fists pumping. I watched stoic faces painted blue hold up just one finger, because that’s all you needed. I watched hugs and smiles and high fives and an abundance of jumping and screaming. And as I watched, I felt what it means to be a Tar Heel. As cliché as it is to say this, there aren’t words in the English language to explain the feeling. But if you scratched any of us last night, I know we would have bled the sweetest Carolina blue you’ve ever seen.

Those kids deserved it—no, they earned it. We all know that our seniors endured the most painful season in Carolina’s history. And so, we could call it redemption, but you don’t redeem yourself from a single season. No, what we saw last night was a continuation of the tradition that is Carolina Basketball. Michael Jordan and Dean Smith watched with pride. 57, 82, 93, and now 05. How sweet it is.

And Roy may have put it best when asked how he felt about finally winning the “big one.” He said just what Coach Smith said in 82. He didn’t feel like he was any better of a coach than he was three hours ago. You’re right Roy, and all of us in Chapel Hill were well aware. But now the rest of the world, including the doubters, the ones that said we weren’t team enough, the ones that said you always fold under the pressure, yes even the dookies, now they all know it too. We’re number one. We’re the champs. No one can take that away.

It felt good to walk around today. The weather was perfect. It was championship weather, completed by the most perfect Carolina blue sky that there ever was. The Daily Tar Heel was gone in record time. Student Stores and Franklin St were swamped with students and fans trying to own a piece of memorabilia. We wore grins to match our championship t-shirts. Professors cancelled and prematurely dismissed class. Campus wasn’t campus today. It was home.

One day maybe thirty, forty years from now, I’ll be sitting inside the Dean Dome watching a new group of kids, most likely under a new coach, and I’ll be listening to all the usual anxious chatter in the stands: “We need to rebound better,” “Did you see that play?!—What an athlete,” “Could this be our year?” And somewhere in all the excitement that is Carolina Basketball, in some quiet moment during warm-ups or a wasted timeout trying to stop our run, I’ll look up into the rafters. I’ll look up as I’ve done so often, admiring all the banners and jerseys—the lives and triumphs that live within those threads. But when I look up this time I’ll turn to who I’m sitting with and point to the one that says 2005 National Champions, and I’ll tell them that I was there. And I will remember everything just the way it happened.

1 comment

  1. I know that this was posted a few weeks ago by our Secretary of Basketball, but it still makes me happy/proud/excited to read it. Too bad all of the players are now….gone 😦

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