The $15 North Carolina Tar Heels
Posted June 2
Amid the journey for LeBron James' third consecutive NBA title, or maybe the Hall of Fame trio of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker chasing down a fourth to put a ribbon on a modern day dynasty that spanned more than a decade, the folks at Ballislife.com gave us a beautiful diversion. From a list of the top five players, in their minds, at each of the five traditional positions, select the ultimate $15 team. At each position, the players are ranked 1-5, with each given a dollar value between $5 and $1 and it's your task to choose one player at each position for a $15 -- or less, if you want -- starting five. There are no bonus points for saving money for a bench as we're not playing a real game, so, spend right up to the cap.
So, what do they say about imitation being the best form of flattery? What do they say about outright stealing someone's idea? I think the latter is the best characterization of what we've done, and last week we presented both the $15 Duke Blue Devils and the $15 N.C. State Wolfpack. Each team was comprised of college basketball legends the likes of Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill, Christian Laettner, David Thompson, Rodney Monroe and Tommy Burleson.
Most fans had fun choosing their favorites, some even followed the rules of the exercise. Either way, two-thirds of the way through, the process of selecting the player pools has been more fun than I ever imagined, but when it came to parsing through the litany of Tar Heels stars this task morphed into one of the most eye-opening endeavors I've undertaken. I mean, how can you leave off seven consensus All-American players, including some of the greatest to play at their positions, not just at North Carolina, but across both college and the NBA?
That's the story of North Carolina Tar Heels basketball from Frank McGuire to Dean Smith to Roy Williams. As I did with the squads from Duke and N.C. State, I sought out Carolina historians to assist with player selections and, more importantly, slot them into the proper positions. So, after careful consideration and some serious gnashing of teeth, we present…..the $15 dollar North Carolina Tar Heels.
Phil Ford $5
Ty Lawson $4
Kenny Smith $3
Raymond Felton $2
Kendall Marshall $1
Also receiving votes were national champions Derrick Phelps and Jimmy Black, and Ed Cota, Carolina's career leader in assists and was part of three teams that reached the final four.
Michael Jordan $5
Charlie Scott $4
Donald Williams $3
Wayne Ellington $2
Hubert Davis $1
Also receiving votes were Jeff Lebo and Joseph Forte, the first of the consensus All-Americans to fail to make this cut.
Larry Miller $5
Mike O'Koren $4
Al Wood $3
Jerry Stackhouse $2
Pete Brennan $1
If you're wondering how Vince Carter, Walter Davis or Bobby Jones couldn't crack the starting line up, you're not alone. For a fleeting moment I thought Davis might be the $5 player here, then he's not on the team at all. Go figure.
Lennie Rosenbluth $5
James Worthy $4
Antawn Jamison $3
Billy Cunningham $2
Rasheed Wallace $1
Three of Carolina's eight retired numbers are in this group, so it helps to explain how a consensus All-American in J.R. Reid or a player the likes of George Lynch would fail to show up on the roster. Wait, I can get 'Sheed for a buck?
Tyler Hansbrough $5
Sam Perkins $4
Mitch Kupchack $3
Brad Daugherty $2
Bob McAdoo $1
Again, how can players like Eric Montross, Sean May and even Joe Wolf or Tyler Zeller have no chance? Such is the nature of more than a half century of Carolina basketball brilliance.
For the record, I only considered players in the ACC era, so apologies to the friends and families of Jack Cobb and George Glamack and their retired numbers. Though, in the case of Cobb, the program didn't have numbers in the 20s. So, along with the aforementioned pair, an additional 20 players who have honored jerseys in the Smith Center rafters were left out of the pool. Just incredible.
Your $15 North Carolina Tar Heels squad will undoubtedly be a power house. I mean, how can it not?
Marshall ($1), Jordan ($5), Stackhouse ($2), Jamison ($3) and Perkins ($4)