Four years. Two Final Fours. One championship.
I figured that I would wait a week before writing this to let one final Tar Heel win at the greatest school in the world sink in. And not just any other win, but the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship win. A win that was a culmination of tears, dedication and redemption — one that was well deserved after a year of endless hard work and unbelievable heart from a team who bounced back from last year’s championship loss. A win that proved that UNC absolutely is the University of National Champions.
To try to even begin to explain the utter excitement I felt the second I realized we were going to be the 2017 National Champions is indescribable. Donning my UNC basketball jersey, I rushed Franklin Street alongside 50,000 other people for one last time. In between the crying, laughing and screaming, I became overwhelmed by the explicit joy this school — and this basketball team — has brought me over the past four years.
Many people don’t understand. They say, “So what? UNC won a national championship. It’s not that big of a deal. It’s just a game.”
But it’s not just a game.
It’s the feeling you get just being in the Dean Dome. Or the feeling you get when we beat Duke and rush with tons of other random strangers who start hugging you and celebrating like there’s no tomorrow. It’s being a part of something so much bigger than yourself and coming together with so many people and all of our differences to celebrate a common passion for the sport and this team. It’s wearing Carolina blue seven days in a row after winning the natty because you are just so dang proud to be a Tar Heel. It’s letting the tears fall and not caring what anybody else thinks because you are happy, relieved, exhausted and all kinds of emotional. It’s Roy Williams’ constant encouragement in the locker room after games that make you believe he’s talking to you. It’s Theo Pinson dancing to Jump Around right before games start. It’s what gives this school its spirit. It’s all of these things together that make the sport more than just a sport.
“This is what it’s all about. This right here. It’s on the floor, it’s on your shirt, and it’s in your heart.” — Stuart Scott
Stuart, your words could not be more true. This is Carolina Basketball — and I am forever grateful for the memories and experiences it has given me, and for the love it will continue to give me for this sport, for this team and for this school.