Massachusetts, in 1981, he was constructing his own Big East colossus.
But. this was North Carolina's year. For the
first time since 1957, when Frank McGuire
coached North Carolina to a one-point, triple-
overtime victory over Kansas and Wilt Chamberlain in the national finals at Kansas City,
the Tar Heels (32-2) finished on top.
And. Tobacco Road celebrated appropriately on Franklin Street in downtown
Chapel Hill, where North Carolina fans,
many with their faces painted blue and
white, congregated to drink beer, party and
cheer after the game.
The next afternoon, a crowd of 20,000
jammed one side of Kenan Stadium to welcome the team, which flew into the Raleigh-Durham Airport on a charter plane.
Most of the cheers were for Worthy. As
he went to take the microphone, the crowd
broke into chants of "One more year. One
Worthy, a 6-9 junior, eventually declared
for undergraduate status and was selected
by the Lakers, who had wrangled the first
pick in the draft that year.
Smith, ironically, did not accompany the
team to the stadium. He wanted this to be
the players' moment. The starting five for
Carolina that year were Worthy, Jordan,
Sam Perkins, Jimmy Black and Matt Doherty — the cream of the ACC.
Perkins, Doherty and Black came to
North Carolina via the famed New York
pipeline. Worthy and Jordan were both
North Carolina kids and legends in this basketball-crazed state.
Worthy played for Ashbrook (North Carolina) High and was an accomplished star
long before his team won the state title his
senior year. Worthy signed with North Carolina early.
Floyd of crosstown rival Huss signed with
Georgetown late. Floyd was a skinny kid
who had even been overlooked on his own
high school team and had to be recommended to Thompson by Clarence
"Bighouse" Gaines of Winston-Salem State.
"I respected Carolina," Floyd said before
the biggest game of his career. "But, I
won't be a Carolina fan tonight."
Georgetown was a team still searching for
national respect. Seven of Thompson's
players were from the District of Columbia,
where they had grown up deluged by the
rival ACC. The Hoyas were the new kids on
the block. But, with a freshman prodigy
like Ewing, they had a knockout punch.
Ironically, there might always be a ques-
Georgetown's John Thompson said the 1982 North Carolina title game was "emotional"
cause of his close ties to Dean Smith.
tion as to which was the better team in this
test of wills.
"If we hadn't won, this was the only year
it would have bothered me, in that we had
the best basketball team, I thought," Smith
said. "We were ranked No. 1 in the country
in preseason and postseason. Everybody
Freshman Patrick Ewing received death
threats prior to the Hoyas' second-round
championship win over Wyoming (51-43).
shot at us — and I'm not sure we were the
best team tonight. I think we were the lucky
team. I think Georgetown is that good.
"I think that I was out-coached, but fortunately, I had players who played extremely well. I think they were more prepared defensively the first half. I was
surprised how active they were. Maybe it's
the hunted versus the hunter."
Georgetown (31-7) took dead aim at the
Tar Heels the entire game, turning Ewing
loose offensively and handcuffing North
Carolina by mixing a 1-3-1 zone with doses
of a stingy man-to-man. The Hoyas all but
silenced the Tar Heels' 6-9 sophomore center Perkins.
Perkins finished with 10 points and was
never really a factor.
Ewing was, in Worthy's words, "awesome." The powerful seven-footer ripped
the heart out of North Carolina's sagging
man-to-man defense, shooting 10-for-15,
scoring 23 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
"It's frightening to think how good he's
going to be in the next couple of years,"
Worthy said, in a fitting prophecy.
Ewing made three trips to the NCAA finals, winning a lone NCAA title in 1984.
He had already become the symbol of the
program his freshman year. He also became a target for the dislike, in some circles, of a team that played aggressive, relentless defense that was often viewed as