On the eve of North Carolina’s Sept. 5 football opener, the party will be located a half a mile south — at the Smith Center.
At 8 p.m. Sept. 4, the UNC athletic department will host an alumni game between former Tar Heel basketball players now in the professional ranks.
It will be a chance for fans to see players from both the 2005 and 2009 national championship teams and other former UNC players in the NBA.
The game marks the opening of a yearlong celebration of basketball at North Carolina. The 2009-10 year is the 100th season of basketball at UNC, and the Department of Athletics has several changes in store to commemorate the occasion.
Of these, the alumni game is the most notable. According to the athletic department, almost all of North Carolina’s alumni in the NBA are slated to return for the exhibition, including players such as Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace from the mid-’90s.
“It’s the start of a season-long celebration,” said Dick Baddour, director of the athletics department.
“We brought this season up a few years ago, and ever since, we’ve been talking about an alumni game.”
The game will also feature the unveiling of North Carolina’s 2009 national championship banner.
According to the athletics department, the exhibition has already sold out, including 3,000 student tickets the athletic department sold for $5 apiece. Most of the proceeds from the ticket sales will go to UNC Hospitals’ Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Athletics department spokesperson Matt Bowers said the student turnout was impressive, given that in the past student attendance falters when tickets aren’t free.
Baddour also cited “tremendous cooperation” from the NBA in allowing its players to participate in the exhibition. Baddour said that in February, the athletic department will host a reunion game in which any player who earned a varsity letter and is physically able can play.
Baddour said the idea came from UNC coach Roy Williams, who helped organize a similar event when he was the coach at Kansas University.
There are also structural changes planned for the Smith Center. Most notably, the floor will feature a commemorative logo for the entire season, as well as new lighting in the arena.
After the 2009-10 season is underway, the athletics department will publish a book and DVD to commemorate 100 years of basketball at UNC.
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