But it was, or rather is, and now always will be.
Rewind back to that moment: How, in the midst of a funnel of navy blue shirts and with an entire orchestra of boos serenading the North Carolina men’s basketball team, the most unlikely of players found himself with the ball — and his team’s season — in his sweaty palms; how, with precious seconds left on the clock against Kentucky on Saturday night and the score tied at 73, a former walk-on had to take the shot that would steer the destiny of his entire team; how Luke Maye, the son of a UNC sports hero in his own right, had a chance to send the Tar Heels to their second consecutive Final Four.
And he made it.
“I just shot it,” Maye said. “Luckily it went in.”
For a second, it didn’t appear he’d have to take a shot at all. Kentucky’s Malik Monk, he of the 47-point supernova against the Tar Heels when the teams first met this season, almost ensured the sequel would go to overtime.
With 7.2 seconds left to play and Kentucky down three, he slid around Maye and Justin Jackson and pulled up from three. Monk’s shot was wobbly, off-kilter — but it, too, went in.
As the tying heave dropped through the net, FedExForum powered on like it hadn’t all night. Swaths of Kentucky fans, anxiously clutching their breaths and their sodas and one another, all roared to life at once.
Still, there was time. UNC just had to use it wisely.