Great Championship Games of the Past
BY DICK WEISS
Philadelphia Daily News
He has secured his place in college
basketball history as well as a spot in
the Naismith Hall of Fame in
But, back in 1982, North Carolina coach
Dean Smith was still fighting to put the exclamation point on what has since been recognized as a brilliant career. Smith had
coached the Tar Heels to the NCAA Final
Four six previous times, but, only one of
his teams has ever emerged as national
Even then, Smith had to hold his breath
through the final seconds as the Tar Heels
stepped past Georgetown, 63-62, before a
massive crowd of 61,612 at the New Orleans Superdome.
The Tar Heels won because a precocious
freshman guard named Michael Jordan
made a clutch 15-foot jumper with 17 sec-
Sam Perkins, who scored 10 points and
grabbed seven rebounds in the 63-62 Tar
Heel title win, passes to guard Matt Doherty.
A View from the East
onds left to give North Carolina a one-point
lead and forward James Worthy came out of
nowhere to make a dramatic interception on
the final possession to cement the victory.
The picture of Jordan's shot appeared on
the Chapel Hill telephone directory the next
year. But, the picture of the steal will be
etched in the minds of North Carolina fans
After Jordan's shot, Georgetown immediately inbounded the ball and pushed it up
Guard Freddie Brown had the ball at the
top of the key. Brown looked inside for a
second when he thought he had Eric Smith
cutting back door. Then, he tried to pass it
to all-America guard Eric "Sleepy" Floyd.
A split-second later, he could see the
championship flashing before his eyes. "If I
had a rubber band, I would have brought it
back," Brown said.
Worthy, gambling in the lane, lunged out,
intercepting the ball with five seconds left
and then sprinted down the floor before being fouled with two seconds left.
Instinct, Worthy said afterwards.
"I saw him (Brown) pick up the ball at
the top of the key," he recalled. "He was
going to throw to someone on the wing. I
thought he'd lob it over me or throw it away
from me. I was just as surprised that it was
right in my chest.
"I thought about going in for the shot,
but then I tried to dribble out the clock. It is
sort of easy to do that sort of thing (make a
bad pass) with bodies criss-crossing and
guys going different directions."
Worthy, who scored 28 points and was
selected the championship's most outstanding player by the media, was all smiles.
"Now," he said jokingly, "maybe the
media will stop writing all those stories
about coach Smith choking in the finals."
That night, it was somebody else's turn to
cry. More than half of the Georgetown
players were in tears. Coach John Thompson went up and down his bench saying a
private word to each one and rubbing each
one on the head.
© © © ©
Thompson hugged Smith at midcourt after the game, showing the admiration he
North Carolina 63
i 32, North Carolina 31.
Officials: Dabrow, Dibbler,
had for one of his closest friends in the
"There were double problems in my
mind, which caused me to be more emotional than I normally would be because of
my affection for the guy who was sitting on
the other bench," Thompson said. "I made
up my mind that I was not going to be a
nice guy. There is no question in my mind
that in our field, Dean Smith is one of the
best. In a sense, I felt the student wanted to
show the teacher he knew something about
the game of basketball because so many
things I know about the college game were
taught to me by him."
Thompson had been a member of Smith's
coaching staff on the 1976 U.S. Olympic
team that won a gold medal in Montreal.
But, now, following the signing of superb
center Patrick Ewing from Cambridge,