Bleeding Blue: Introduction
While watching Carolina play basketball I find myself filled with a constant flow of thoughts and a desire to ensure memory of the most significant moments, and I can think of at least a small handful of friends and family who, based on past interactions, will enjoy reading and commenting in this forum, and sharing in the collective experience that is Carolina basketball.
It is important to state at the outset that this is not an illusion of adding something to the already over-saturated access to online reporting and commentary. We can also immediately dispense with any notion of objectivity: this is journalism Samuel Adams style, with a clear motive, bias, and set of assumptions, albeit broad ones that may require some tweaking. What I am interested in is preserving, for myself as much as anyone else, an account of my experience of Carolina basketball, which is admittedly of enormous, and arguably irrational, importance. Through this I hope to provide a clear and thorough statement of the greatness of our state’s most recognizable cultural institution, and why there is no better sports family of which to be a part than the one based out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
For the better part of my childhood I was intensely envious of my parents, who had lived through the original glory days when Dean Smith built the program into a national legend. More than that, they twice knew what it was to experience a national championship, the truest Holy Grail of success for our program, and for me only a mystical moment in the past that I knew had transpired three times. Those three teams, 1957, 1982, and 1993, I knew inside and out from Carolina history – I had watched the game tapes of ’82 and ’93 enough times I almost could have convinced myself I actually remembered them. That as a five year old I theoretically could have remembered the 1993 title (I remember the epic blizzard that hit North Carolina that same month) compounded the frustration, and I can distinctly remember wondering after the top-ranked 1998 team led by Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter bowed out in the Final Four for the second year in a row whether I would ever experience what my parents did. Perhaps I was just unlucky to have been born too late, I thought, which seemed validated by our struggles over the next four seasons.
Clearly I was too young to have enough faith. It is now the year 2011, and I have now experienced two national championships in a five year period, during one of which I was fortunate enough to be a student at UNC. Roy seems to have the Heels perennially competing for titles in a way even Dean never did, reaching the Elite Eight or better in five of his eight seasons. It would appear that these are the new glory days, as we look forward to 2011-2012 as the favorite to complete a doubling of our national title count in an eight season span. The jealous kid has been replaced by a very thankful alum that realizes how lucky North Carolinians are to live and die by a team that wins – a lot.
Which brings me to the one additional point this blog will hope to make clear: that subjecting oneself to valuing Carolina basketball with such high importance is, despite the torment of occasional loss and ups and downs inherent to sports, ultimately a perfectly rational, and rewarding thing to do.
As I said, we’re starting with the motives and the biases; the experiences will speak for themselves. Here goes.