A museum showcasing nearly a century of Carolina men's basketball memorabilia will open its doors to the public for the first time at 10 a.m. today.
Blue Heaven Basketball Museum, located at 1840 Airport Road, is the brainchild of owner David Daly, 1978 manager of the Tar Heel men's basketball team.
Due to some complications with getting the museum up and running, Daly said he had little time to advertise in full force. "We're having a soft opening . and we'll do more advertisements when basketball season starts," he said.
Daly said he first had the idea of the museum three years ago.
"I saw all the fan interest coming into the memorabilia room in the Smith Center," he said.
Daly said he thought it would be nice if there were a larger space available for fans to come and enjoy Carolina basketball.
Daly said the museum covers 3,100 square feet and was named after Carmichael Auditorium. Blue Heaven is synonymous with both the auditorium and Carolina basketball, he said.
Exhibits in the museum will feature high points of the four national championships and other seminal moments in the team's history, Daly said.
Daly has collected a variety of items including jerseys, shoes, basketballs and trophies from former prominent players like Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Charlie Scott and James Worthy. "We (also) have a lot of items from the '30s and '40s," Daly said. "Lennie Rosenbluth loaned his jersey to put on display."
But he stresses the main focus is on the team as a whole. "It's not just something to glorify individual players," Daly said. "This shows fans how successful the team has been."
Daly said the museum also will include exhibits dating back to 1911.
"There's not that much memorabilia in the 1900s, but we can try and tell the story," he said.
Daly was able to purchase the original scoreboard and backboard from Carmichael Auditorium. "One of the historical things we have is the scoreboard from the 1924 season," he said. 1924 is the year the team won its first national championship.
Some of the basketball memorabilia is from his own collection, and other items are from former players, their families and staff, he said.
"David Daly was a former manager here so he's got a lot of contacts with former players and coaches," said Steve Kirschner, UNC associate director of athletics.
Daly said he hopes to feature all the Carolina basketball coaches' careers and records, including Matt Doherty's. "I have some pictures of him in his playing days," Daly said.
Matt Doherty, head men's basketball coach, said he is sure Daly would do a first-class job.
"As long as it's done in a tasteful way, anytime I'm associated with Carolina, I'll be proud," he said.
While Daly said he thinks business will be slow at first, he hopes the museum will gain momentum.
"It can also educate the younger fans that there's more to Carolina basketball than the '90s."
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