UNC’s championship ring ceremony was spectacular.
Some people wonder why basketball celebrations like Saturday’s awarding of the 2017 national championship rings are held during football halftime at UNC. Most of these events, like the hoops centennial in 2010, the 25 and 50-year anniversaries of the ‘82 and ‘57 NCAA title teams and this coming season’s 25th birthday of the 1993 champs, are held at the Smith Center. So why do any in the fall?
First, with the 63,000 seating capacity of Kenan Stadium, more people get to see their basketball heroes. Even though Carolina is now allowing public sale of some basketball tickets, the Dean Dome still holds about one-third of what Kenan does. Then, there is a possible conflict with the NBA season that begins with training camps in October.
If Saturday’s celebration was done at, say, Late Night with Roy, ACC Player of the Year and Sacramento Kings rookie Justin Jackson and any of his teammates who will make NBA rosters probably couldn’t have been there, and that just won’t work. Neither could Danny Green, of the San Antonio Spurs, from the 2009 national champs that helped award the latest rings. As it were, Green’s teammates Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Deon Thompson and Marcus Ginyard were already overseas getting ready to start their pro seasons.
For all of the former national championship team members – from Tommy Kearns, Joe Quigg and Lennie Rosenbluth of the 1957 Tar Heels, to Jimmy Black, Matt Doherty and James Worthy of Dean Smith’s first title team in 1982, to others living out of state – coming back for a beautiful football weekend is always easier to negotiate. Same for Ray Felton, Jackie Manuel, Wes Miller, David Noel, Melvin Scott and Marvin Williams from the 2005 team, Roy Williams’ first NCAA champs. And Bobby Frasor from the 2009 team.
So the alumni turnout made the well-staged ceremony even sweeter, capped of course by Worthy, the 1982 Final Four MVP, handing a ring to his ex-assistant coach and long-time good friend Ol’ Roy, capping a very special reunion indeed.