North Carolina Basketball Museum Set To Open Monday
Posted January 25, 2008
Two doors down from the Smith Center – home of the North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball team – stands the Ernie Williamson Athletic Center – home of the new “Carolina Basketball Museum.”
The museum, which opens to the public Monday at 10 a.m., will be open to the public Monday-through-Friday until 4 p.m. It will also stay open on UNC game days. Admission is free.
Inside, Carolina fans will find an astounding collection of UNC artifacts, ranging from game balls to national championship trophies to letters from Dean Smith to Michael Jordan.
In addition, there are a number of well-put-together videos of current players, former coaches and classic teams in Tar Heel history. The museum contains impressive interactive content, such as a touch-screen index of teams, coaches and players – from Stewart Aitken to Serge Zwikker.
Some of the highlights include:
- An Imax-esque theater that shows a 6-minute film that provides a glimpse into the Carolina basketball world.
- The trophy room filled with ACC championship, Final Four and NCAA championship memorabilia (the NCAA Championship trophy case still has room for four more trophies, should UNC win them someday).
- The Jordan shrine, complete with his letters of intent to sign at UNC, suggestions from Smith about aspects of Jordan’s game that needed improvement and a letter from Mike Krzyzewski stating his disappointment that Jordan chose not to attend Duke University.
- A portion of the actual hard-court from the 2005 NCAA Final Four in St. Louis, which the Rams Club purchased and donated.
UNC Sports Information Director Matt Bowers said that the idea for the museum came five to seven years ago, when Smith decided that he wanted to donate his personal memorabilia collection to the university. The old Smith Center memorabilia room was too small to hold it, and it also was for all UNC sports.
A committee met about two years ago to start planning the Carolina Basketball Museum, which houses Smith’s collection, articles that already belonged to UNC and donations that were solicited from former players, coaches and managers. The group toured similar museums for the Green Bay Packers, University of Oklahoma football, University of Kentucky basketball and the Churchill Downs racetrack.
But the Carolina museum has a distinct Tar Heel feel to it, as the “Carolina Way” doctrine is unavoidably preached throughout. It should be a delight for fans and former players – as well as an excellent tool for recruiting.