I love when February rolls around and basketball starts to get serious.
It’s especially engaging in college basketball when teams start jockeying for league titles and tournament seeds. I rep Ohio State to death, but when it comes to basketball they share my loyalty with North Carolina. Last night, the Tar Heels went up against their arch-rival Duke and it was another great game. Like the Yankees and Red Sox, this is the type of rivalry where even casual fans choose a side and feign interest. From Stackhouse to ‘Sheed, Carter to McCants and the endless Eastern European 4 & 5’s Dean always had near the end of his tenure; I’ve seen my share of games. However, my most memorable moment from the overall series is actually one that never happened.
In ’98, I was in either 8th or 9th grade and I was loving this game. Carolina had been up by double digits the entire contest and had finally put the game away after withstanding a Duke rally. Vince Carter stole the ball and started up court for the break. He tossed it up to Ed Cota and I was on the edge of my seat. I just knew something crazy was gonna happen because they were up by like a dozen. On top of that, Dean Smith had just retired a few years prior and these guys pretty much did whatever they wanted on the court. When I saw Cota ease up, flip it off the glass and Vince fly outta nowhere to snatch the ball out the air, I flat-out lost it. I got up and was pumping my fist – only to see someone hit a 3 point shot. Everybody, Dick Vitale included, thought he made that dunk until the replay. I was deflated for a quick second, but they were up by too much to stay down for long.
Vince has gone on to cement his spot as one of the best dunkers in history, but I’ll always remember this one the best. He’s done some crazy stuff, but the intensity and passion in which college players play with will never be matched. But I guess like athletes are that much like everyone else; the college years are always the most memorable.