TO THE EDITOR:
Back in the spring of 1993, I was 16 years old, and my parents let me borrow their car so I could drive from Durham to Chapel Hill to watch the national championship game between UNC and Michigan being shown on a big screen in Carmichael Arena. I went by myself because all of my friends growing up in Durham were Duke fans. But I didn’t care that I was going alone. I just knew I wanted to be around thousands of other Tar Heel fans to experience something I knew I might not ever experience again.
After Chris Webber called his infamous timeout, the place exploded. I marched down to Franklin Street with all of my newest friends. There was a light rain that night, and I just walked up and down Franklin basking in awe at the celebratory energy that exudes from college kids whose team won a national championship. A college girl came up to me and gave me an unexpected and much appreciated kiss of pure joy. Someone else gave me a beer (this was before open container laws). As a 16-year-old, it was probably the most memorable night of my life to that point.
While I was a student at UNC, the Heels made the Final Four in ’97 and ’98 but never made it to the final game. I was living in Colorado for the championships in 2005 and 2009, and while watching and celebrating with old college friends and fellow Tar Heels was certainly fun, the energy and excitement quickly dissipated whenever we left the bar where we were watching to mill about amongst people who couldn’t care less about UNC.
I eventually returned to my roots on Tobacco Road, and last year, I watched the heartbreaking championship game with friends. After being away for so long, I thought that watching the game with close friends was the best way to celebrate what could have been my first Tar Heel national championship back in N.C. Villanova obviously had other plans.