All week long, the “sports guy” at my job has been talking about some “Carrier Classic” between the Army and Air Force that will be played tonight on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. I feigned just enough interest to not appear rude and quickly found a reason to finish the conversation, walking away each time thinking “why in the hell would they play a football game on an aircraft carrier?” However, when he swapped “football” with “basketball” and then replaced “Army vs. Air Force” with preseason number one North Carolina vs. Michigan State on Veterans Day, the boy MZ’s interest level went from 2 to 10.
In a rematch of their 2009 National Title Game, North Carolina and Michigan State will make history playing on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson in the San Diego Bay. The two teams will square off in front of 7,000 people in a specially built stadium that was constructed off-site and will be transported to the venue today. The teams coaches, Roy Williams and Tom Izzo, had this to say about the game:
“This is a celebration,” Williams said. “The basketball game, from the tipoff till the final horn, we’re going to be working our tails off about the game. But every single second prior to it and as soon as the game’s final horn is over with, we’re thinking about hopefully putting a smile on some people’s faces who represent our country and serve our country.
“My first impression when I walked in far superseded whatever I thought it could be, and we’ve been talking about this for seven or eight years,” Izzo said Thursday aboard the carrier, which is berthed at North Island Naval Air Station. “If you could have seen our players’ eyes as we walked in, you just had such an appreciation for what we’re doing. It’s bigger than a game. It’s bigger than North Carolina against Michigan State. It’s kind of a dream come true for us. In a small, small way, I think we feel we’re giving a little bit back and maybe recognizing the people that deserve to be recognized, instead of just the athletes.” – Newsday
James Worthy and Magic Johnson will serve as the honorary captains for their alma maters as we finally have some basketball back in our lives.
And of course Nike and Jordan Brand had to get involved considering the two teams involved, creating a camo inspired jersey and shoe collection for each team. North Carolina will be wearing a special colorway of the Air Jordan 8.0 and Michigan State will have on a special colorway of the Nike Zoom Hyperdunk 2011 Supreme. Both are available now at Nike’s online store. The Carrier Classic will also serve as the debut for Nike/Jordan Brand’s latest technological breakthrough in the jerseys:
Both jerseys are made with recycled polyester; for a point of reference, each full jersey uses thirty-six plastic bottles. The Carrier Classic jerseys are just a precursor to a lengthy plan set by Nike and Jordan Brand; in 2011, they expect to double its usage of recycled polyester, diverting more than 440 million plastic bottles from waste landfills. In addition to the Fall 2011 NCAA uniforms, the Spring 2012 Platinum Elite uniforms will continue usage of recycled materials, with its Elite short being made entirely of plastic bottles. [Sneaker News]
Be sure to tune in tonight, 11-11-11, at 7pm EST on ESPN to catch The 2011 Quicken Loans Carrier Classic.