What other words to capture the gravity of this moment — for Chapel Hill residents, for fans of UNC athletics, for anyone who follows college basketball? What other words to grasp one of the biggest seismic shifts in the sports landscape in recent memory?
And what other words to capture the feeling of head coach Roy Williams, on the court bearing his name, seated between Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham and Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and backgrounded by UNC’s NCAA title banners, announcing that he was no longer fit for one of the most prestigious jobs in college basketball?
“I’m not gonna say the ‘best’ man, because I never thought I was the best at doing things,” Williams said, dressed in a pink tie with a Carolina Blue blazer. “Fifteen years at Kansas, I felt that I was the right man, and this time at North Carolina I felt that I was the right man. I no longer feel that I am the right man for the job.”
Yes, after 33 seasons, 903 wins and three national championships, the head coach and forever Tar Heel announced his retirement on Thursday, closing the book on a legendary career, beginning a new era of UNC athletics and ending perhaps the most fruitful stretch in basketball program history.
In some ways, the April Fools' Day press release seemed like a joke until the very moment the 70-year-old Hall of Famer walked out of the Dean E. Smith Center tunnel — flanked by members of the program and his wife, Wanda — to a standing ovation from boosters and former players. It took nearly the entire hour-long press conference to realize that yes, it was here, and yes, it was now, and yes, the words "Roy Williams, current head coach of UNC basketball" would never again be accurate.
"The only thing I've ever wanted to do is coach ... it's all I've ever done," he said. "I'm scared to death of trying to do something that's not coaching."
Williams’ career spanned nearly a half-century, beginning at Owen High School in Black Mountain, N.C., and taking him everywhere from Lawrence, Kan., to Final Fours across the country to the very summit of the college basketball world.
It included the third-most victories of any coach, the sixth-highest winning percentage in NCAA history, a National Coach of the Decade award and three national championships, in 2005, 2009 and 2017.