Courtside Morton(s)

Tonight the University of North Carolina Tar Heel men play a game of basketball against UC-Santa Barbara.

My image scanning and processing this month has consisted of mostly basketball photographs,  and  according to a rough estimation they outnumber the usual celluloid suspects — bears, battleships, and pageant queens — by a significant margin. Therefore I have many pictures to choose from, and I feel slightly overwhelmed by all the options, all of which are excellent.

Thanks to a long tradition of basketball movies, I have been given the impression that basketball is about more than slam dunks and court-side gesticulations. Hugh Morton’s photos do not dispel this perception: in the collection there are a host of photographs from locker rooms, press conferences, dinner parties, and airplanes.

UNC men's basketball team returning from 1982 NCAA Championship win

Here is an optimistic photograph, to begin with: a very backstage shot of a very sleepy men’s basketball team returning home on an airplane after their 1982 NCAA championship victory in New Orleans. (Note the young Michael Jordan two rows back on the left, and that looks like James Worthy in the front right, cuddling with his pillow).

Here is another off-court shot, of a very despondent, soda-drinking player in the locker room. The man, presumably a coach, assistant coach, or general father figure, is trying to encourage him in vain.

UNC men's basketball player being consoled in locker room

Moving on in the basketball summary, here is a highlight from the collection of on-court photographs. After seeing this, I wonder if maybe basketball really is just about slam dunks.

UNC basketball's Michael Jordan dunking in a game against Duke, early 1980s

Carolina, in a game against Duke, is trailing slightly (36-42 according to the scoreboard), but I wonder, did this momentous dunk-in-progress by Michael Jordan change things? Was this one of the seminal Carolina-Duke match-ups, or merely another entry in the tally of this legendary rivalry?

My idea on this photo is that, because it was taken in the Greensboro Coliseum, it might be from the ACC tournament on March 10, 1984. If so, then Duke ended up winning, 75 to 77. But I can never be sure, as the photos I process often come to me in the form of loose, undated and unlabeled film negatives, and I have no context for the picture aside from embedded details (nametags and calendars are always welcome!). Can anyone help me identify the particular game?

To close, I have a photo from Hugh’s grandson Jack Morton, who has apparently inherited his Tar Heel photographer’s pass, and is documenting the exploits of current UNC basketballers. More of Jack’s photos from the Nov. 15 Carolina-Penn season opener can be viewed here. It is pretty neat to see the family continuity, isn’t it?

UNC's Deon Thompson and Penn defender in season opener, 11/15/2008

10 thoughts on “Courtside Morton(s)

  1. Thanks, Elizabeth! The player crying in the second photo is Michael Norwood, and that’s his father. That was after the 1987 NCAA loss to Syracuse in the Elite Eight. Norwood was a JV player who worked his way up to varsity…the Heels lost by 4, so it was a painful defeat.

    For what it’s worth, Syracuse nearly won the title that spring, barely losing to Indiana when Keith Smart hit his famous jumper in New Orleans…

    Thanks,
    Jack

  2. I did a little research – very little, as someone had compiled the UNC-Duke rivalry as a Wikipedia entry. They had the scores and locations of all UNC-Duke Games.

    According to the site, during the Jordan years all UNC home games with Duke were played at Carmichael Auditorium. The only game not listed at Carmichael or Cameron (Duke’s arena) is the ACC tournament game.

    So, unless the athletic department says that some of the 1981-1984 regular season games were played in Greensboro I think you’re correct about this picture being from the ACC tournament.

  3. You know, you guys could create a class called “Detective Work for Archivists”!
    My wife is a writer of history, and helping her sometimes has helped me to learn to look for sources from unusual angles sometimes. The same sorts of skills are used by you guys as you identify the people in these photos – and would be good skills to transfer to others.

  4. Here are three guesses for other individuals in image #1:
    Is that Matt Doherty seated to Jordan’s left? Is that John Brownlee just across the aisle? Is that Lynwood Robinson in the left foreground? Just guessing…

    In image #2, you are correct about the Carolina – Duke game, Elizabeth. It was the March 10, 1984 ACC Tournament Semifinals in the Greensboro Coliseum. The picture was taken early in the second half as Carolina was on a 12-2 run after trailing 40 to 32 at the half. That game was the only time Michael Jordan played against Duke in Greensboro. He had 22 points in Carolina’s 77-75 loss. Two of the other players in the shot are Duke’s Danny Meagher #45 and Duke’s Johnny Dawkins #24 trying to black Jordan’s shot.

    It is great to see Jack Morton following in his grandfather’s footsteps. I see his work often in “Inside Carolina” magazine and he, like his grandfather, has that special touch. By the way, in image #3, the Deon Thompson shot from 11/15/08, the Penn defender #24 is Jack Eggleston.

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  6. The tennis players are Charlie Justice, Orville Campbell, someone I don’t know unless it is Bob Cox, and that is a very wild guess, and Albert Long who I was told is the only UNC-CH student to letter in all four major sports.

    The “celebrities” at the Azalea Festival whom I do recognize are Andy Griffin and ( maybe ) Katherine Grayson. I( believe she was from Winston-Salem (I’m not sure!!) and made it big in movies with her pretty face and lovely voice

  7. The gentleman singing is Norman Cordon, UNC-CH alumnus and Metropolitan Opera Basso Profundo.

    The young man receiving the gold medal from N.J.MacDonald for the high jump at the Highland Games is Jim Morton.

    And there is a story about the platform the young highland dancer is performing on.It was a very early “games” amd Hugh told the guys on our maintanance crew to build a dance platform for the event. When Hugh saw it the fellows said it was the only time they ever heard him curse; they had used the rare wood ( walnut, cherry, et.) from the store Hugh had inherited from his father whose hobby was making furniture.

    You have a picture of an early (perhaps the first?) Azalea Festival with several nameless people. Mayor E.L. White is one of the
    gentlemen. Mr. White was a really good friend of Hugh’s, but when he first introduced the celebrities to the crowd he welcomed them to the “Zestival Failure” After that he cpuldn’t say “Azalea Festival” correctly to save his life.

  8. I ran across the Michael Norwood and his father image in the 1988 issue of “Carolina Court.” It’s on page 8.

  9. An interesting quote in Lee Pace’s “Extra Points” column following the NCS game as he described Gio’s now famous punt return…

    “Raleigh photographer Jack Morton was on the 15 yard-line, between the N.C. State bench and the west end zone, aiming his camera to the action just as his grandfather, Hugh, had done so many years ago when Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice was scampering across this same ground. Morton likes the visiting sideline because it’s less crowded than the home side, and for this moment in history he was perfectly positioned. “

  10. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gQ7tVlMruo

    Raleigh photographer Jack Morton (Hugh Morton’s grandson) described Gio Bernard’s famous punt return to win the NC State game on October 27th.

    The description is part of Lee Pace’s article in Saturday’s game program:

    “Gio came into my view about 50 yards away, rounded the corner and you see the wall form,” Morton said. “You could see this cavernous gap form. You could have driven a couple of trucks through there. I had to try to zoom out as he’s coming at me, and I know I lost him when he swung past me. But that’s okay. The drama was what was coming at me.”

    Where can we see your photographs, Jack?

    I recently ran across this WRAL-TV feature, presented during March Madness 2011.

    http://www.wralsportsfan.com/acc_tournament/video/9252836/#/vid9252836

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