Jan 25, 2008
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- When the Carolina Basketball Museum opens on Monday, the Tar Heel faithful will be able to stroll through their beloved program's history. But the museum's highlights come in the attention to detail that uncovers the true meaning of why North Carolina basketball is adorned by so many.
* Michael Jordan donated a recruiting letter dated Oct. 29, 1980, from an opposing head coach expressing sorrow that the Wilmington, N.C. native was no longer interested in his school. The note went on to read, “I do want you to know that my staff and I wish you the very best in your college career. You are a fine young man and you should make an immediate impact on whatever you choose. Take care, and best of luck. Sincerely, Mike Krzyzewski.”
* Dave Hart provided a watch to the museum from the 1982 National Championship season. Then a team manager on Dean Smith’s first title squad, he was not expecting any type of gift for his efforts, as the NCAA provided only a small number of watches to the players and staff. Smith made sure Hart received a gift, however, giving the senior his own watch in a display of gratitude for his hard work.
* There is now physical evidence that North Carolina once had rival colors on their uniforms. Former head coach Frank McGuire jazzed up the 1956-57 apparel by adding red stitching around the neckline, as seen on Lennie Rosenbluth’s jersey from the ’57 championship season.
* One of the more intriguing artifacts in the entire museum is Bobby Jones’ jersey from the controversial 1972 Olympics squad. The United States’ basketball team had won the gold medal in every Olympics dating back to its introduction at the 1936 Games, but the Soviet Union won 51-50 after receiving extra time on two different occasions in the final three seconds of the contest. The U.S. team refused the silver medal and did not attend the awards ceremony before filing an official protest. A 3-2 vote kept the gold medal in the Russian’s hands.
* Coach Smith’s display highlighted his various achievements while coaching at North Carolina, but two things stood out in particular – one being his original film projector from the 1960’s. The other was the official scorebook from his first game at UNC, an 80-46 victory over Virginia on Dec. 2, 1961. The halftime score, 39-19, was handwritten in the top margin of the right page. Even more intriguing – possibly highlighting the depth of the UNC-Duke rivalry – was that written in parentheses beside head referee Lou Bello’s name was the word, “Duke.” The theatrical Bello, who officiated at the collegiate level from 1946 through the 1971 season, was a Duke graduate.
* James Worthy donated an offseason note from Smith prior to the 1981-82 season, detailing what his coach wanted him to work on for the coming year. The list was comprised of 12 items, including establishing a pivot foot, working on shots in the 10-foot range and to being the Tar Heels’ defensive stopper. The Gastonia, N.C. native went on to earn first-team All-America honors and scored 28 points in the 63-62 victory over Georgetown in the 1982 national championship game.
* There is an interactive display dedicated to Smith’s coaching innovations throughout his illustrious career. Four small circular tables display diagrams of the point zone, four corners, secondary break and scrambled defense techniques that helped to revolutionize collegiate basketball.
* There is a team photo of the very first UNC squad to set foot on the hardwood, dating back to the 1910-11 season. Basketball became a varsity event at North Carolina on Jan. 27, 1911.
* There is a signing board in the main room that will eventually hold signatures of every living player and coach from the basketball program. The current team and coaching staff has already signed the board, as well as the 84 former players that attended the opening event last week. The first person to sign? That honor went to former head coach and longtime assistant Bill Guthridge.
* The entire floor of the museum’s main room is a replica of the Smith Center floor, with shadow boxes inserted into the ground at various spots, detailing the importance of those locations. You can stand at the free throw line, where Joe Quigg knocked down two free throws with six seconds remaining to defeat Kansas in the 1957 national championship game, or you can relive Walter Davis’ buzzer-beating 25-footer against Duke on March 2, 1974, erasing an eight-point deficit in the final 17 seconds.
- The museum cost $3.4 million in private donations to build.
- The tour begins with a six-minute video presentation in a top-of-the-line theater room highlighting the UNC game day experience.
- This marks the first time all 16 Final Four and 16 ACC Championship trophies have been together in one central location.
- There are various interactive videos, including Woody Durham calling the 30 greatest moments in Tar Heel history and Marty Brennaman narrating the 16 Final Four appearances.
- The museum holds more than 450 artifacts encased in nearly 40 displays in the 8,000 square foot facility.