While watching my beloved North Carolina men's basketball team fight a very physical Florida State squad, I had something of a quiet epiphany. It was part-way through the 2nd half, and we were swapping the lead back and forth like fourth grade boys handling a frog. Reggie Bullock grabbed an offensive rebound, drove it back in for a basket, and I suddenly realized it was okay if we lost.
Losing is not something I enjoy, or something any of us Carolina fans are particularly used to, so after 27 years of rabid fanhood, it didn't feel natural. But as I watched this young team begin to coalesce around a larger idea, I knew they had bought into the program, bought into each other, and were giving it everything they had. What more can you ask for?
I'm always amazed at fans who decide to stop watching when their team isn't doing well, or inversely, only get excited when the tournament is on and we've got a shot. I'm particularly demoralized at the crop of UNC alums who have decided that the academic scandal surrounding the AFAM department and football team has rendered us damaged goods.
For me, it's just as simple as believing in gravity or the reoccurrence of spring; hewing my spirit to the Heels is not a choice, it's a natural phenomenon. I'll watch them by myself at the farm and scream at the wall they're projected on, just as loud as the times I've screamed in person at the Dean Dome, or with my brothers-in-arms on Cameron Avenue.
We ended up winning on Saturday against Florida State, a good old-fashioned barnburner in hostile territory. But the fact is this: we have no dead-eyed assassin from 27 feet; we have no 7-foot center able to instill his will; we have no point guard who will score 24 points when no one else can. Yet what we do have is the core group of electrons that can spin around the nucleus of the Carolina Way and be an element for the ages.
Tessa has a picture of Danny Green in her office bathroom:
Danny was incredible - his teabagging of Greg Paulus remains one of the great moments of the Carolina-Dook rivalry - yet he and Wayne Ellington hitched their legends to the streaking comet of Ty Lawson and the Jupiter-sized power of Tyler Hansbrough. This year's roster has none of that astronomy. Put simply, there is nobody on the team good enough to make anyone else better.
But that's not the gorgeous chimera Dean Smith created. Despite the aberrations we've always loved, Carolina has always been built like a precision watch - individual pieces powering a sum more than its parts. The watch runs faster under Roy, and it's a bitch to learn, but it's damned near a masterpiece when it's going.
Posted by Ian Williams at January 14, 2013 11:27 PM