The Dunk for the Ages

Over the years, Hugh Morton has taken hundreds of pictures of basketball great Michael Jordan.  There are 124 photographs of Jordan in the Morton online collection so far.  One image, however, stands out from all the others.  As Jordan turns 50 years old today—Sunday, February 17, 2013—Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks back at that classic image.

Michale Jordan dunk versus University of Virginia

His biography on the NBA website states, “By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.”

It’s easy to see why.  Michael Jeffrey Jordan’s resume includes the following accolades:

  • An NCAA Championship (at UNC)
  • 2 Olympic Gold Medals
  • 6 NBA Championships (with the Chicago Bulls)
  • 5 MVP Awards
  • 10 All-Pro NBA First Teams
  • 10 NBA Scoring Titles
  • 14 NBA All-Star Appearances

The list doesn’t stop there.

Jordan was one of the most effectively marketed athletes in the history of sports. Thanks to the emergence of the 24/7 cable sports channels—and the Internet in the latter part of his playing career—Jordan’s heroics became all access, all the time.  Michael Jordan has been the subject of a Sports Illustrated cover fifty-seven times (so far), and, according to Lew Powell of “North Carolina Miscellany,” he has had seventy-eight mentions on the TV show Jeopardy!.

When recalling Jordon’s UNC accomplishments, Tar Heel fans will often recall the final basket in the NCAA Championship game against Georgetown in 1982 that gave Head Coach Dean Smith his first national title.  Other folks, however, like to recall a different shot.

On February 10, 1983, in a game against the University of Virginia played in Carmichael Auditorium, the Tar Heels trailed by sixteen with 8:30 left in the game. It was then that the Heels started a classic comeback. By the time there was only 1:20 left on the clock, the Virginia lead was down to three points. Then a Jordan put-back made it a one-point game at 63-62. With under a minute to go, Virginia’s Rick Carlisle had the ball and got past Jordan, but Michael came up from behind and stole the ball.  Jordan drove to the hoop, making the famous basket that North Carolina author and sports historian Jim Sumner termed “the dunk for the ages.”  Heels win 64-63.

Hugh Morton once again was at the right place at the right time, capturing the moment with a classic image that has been reproduced dozens of times.  Morton, in his 1996 book Sixty Years with a Camera, called it his favorite picture of Jordan.  Morton always included the image in his slides shows while he told the story behind the picture. The story goes like this.

In early February 1983 Morton got a call from C.J. Underwood, the longtime anchor and reporter at WBTV, Channel 3, in Charlotte.  Underwood wanted to do a feature for his “Carolina Camera” news segment about Morton and his longtime association with UNC sports.  So they both agreed that the game on Thursday, February 10th in Chapel Hill would be a good time to meet and shoot the feature.

As the teams warmed up for the game, Jordan came over to Morton’s courtside location, as he often did.  During the course of the conversation, Morton told Jordan about Underwood and the WBTV photographer shooting the feature. As the two parted, Morton said, “Have a good game, Michael.”

Following that fantastic shot, Michael ran back up the court, brushed by Morton and asked, “Was that good enough?”

In 2009, Michael Jordan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and is currently the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.

On February 18th when the new Sports Illustrated hits the bookstores, Jordan will once again be pictured on the front cover.  So far he has managed to avoid the legendary “SI Cover Jinx” fifty-seven times. (Fifty times according to the magazine if you don’t count “commerorative and collector’s editions as well as tiny insets or out of focus shots of MJ.”)  If all goes well after next week, you can add number fifty-eight.

A commitment to excellence

Officially it’s “The Dean E. Smith Student Activity Center.”  Some call it simply “The Smith Center,” while others call it “The Student Activity Center.”  And then there are those who lovingly call it “The Dean Dome.”  But whatever name you use, the University of North Carolina’s basketball arena had a most interesting and inspiring beginning.  Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back at the beginning of what has become one of the premier basketball facilities in the country.

Dean Smith in the UNC Student Activity Center, 21 August 1985

Dean Smith in the UNC Student Activity Center, 21 August 1985. (Photograph cropped by the editor.)

“The SAC (Student Activity Center) is a visible commitment to excellence in athletics.”—UNC Athletics Director John Swofford, Summer of 1985

The scenario was familiar.  By 1980 Carolina had once again outgrown its basketball facility and talk of a new one was a familiar topic when Tar Heel alumni and friends gathered.  It was just as it had been in 1923 when the Indoor Athletic Center (known as the Tin Can) replaced Bynum Gym—just as it had been in 1937 when Woollen Gym replaced the Tin Can, and just as it was in 1965 when Carmichael Auditorium replaced Woollen Gym.

In the spring of 1980 the University and a very special group of its most loyal supporters began a journey, led by Hargrove “Skipper” Bowles, UNC Class of 1941.  The mission was to raise 30 million dollars in private funds for an arena to showcase head coach Dean Smith’s nationally prominent basketball program.  There were many who said it couldn’t be done, but Bowles never wavered and on April 17, 1982 ground was broken in a wooded ravine near Mason Farm Road.  The fund raising campaign continued until August 1, 1984.  By that date 2,362 people had contributed from $1 to $1 million, and the total came to almost $35 million.  (The single $1 million gift came from businessman Walter R. Davis.)

Aerial view of the Student Activity Center under construction circa 1985.

Aerial view of the Student Activity Center under construction circa 1985. (Hugh Morton photograph, not in online collection at time this post was published.)

While Bowles and his team made its final push, construction at the site was progressing—more than 20,000 cubic yards of rock were dynamited out of the ground and about 150,000 cubic feet of dirt was redistributed to clear and shape the land.  Slowly the bricks and mortar and steel and concrete took shape.  1800 tons of structural steel was brought in to support the 250,000 square foot roof.  After almost four years of construction, the 300,000 square foot octagonally shaped, seven-and-a-half acre Student Activity Center was ready.

On Friday night January 17, 1986, a black-tie dinner was held in the new arena to honor the University’s Arts and Sciences Foundation.  Broadcaster Woody Durham, master of ceremonies, introduced UNC’s Chancellor Christopher C. Fordham III.

Fordham speaking at Dean Smith Center opening

UNC Chancellor Christopher Fordham III speaks during a black-tie dinner to honor the University’s Arts and Sciences Foundation. During his speech, Fordham announced that the Student Activity Center was to be named in honor of Dean Smith. Seated behind Fordham (left to right) are Gillian T. Cell, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, John Swofford, Director of Athletics, and Woody Durham, Master of Ceremonies. (Hugh Morton photograph, not in the online collection at the time this post was published.)

“This magnificent building stands as both a tribute to what Dean Smith has created at the University and a promise that what he has developed will continue. . . .  We are a better university and a better state because he is one of us.”  The Chancellor then added the following announcement.  “From now on, this building shall be known as the Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center . . . .”

Hargrove "Skipper" Bowles watches UNC vs. Duke in Smith Center

Hargrove “Skipper” Bowles watching the UNC vs. Duke basketball game during the Smith Center’s debut. Seated to Bowles’ right is his wife Deziree and grandson Sammy Bowles. (Hugh Morton photograph, not in the online collection at the time this post was published.)

During the fund-raising campaign, “Skipper” Bowles had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.  When he entered the Smith Center on Saturday afternoon January 18, 1986, Bowles was on a respirator and in a wheel chair.  One of the first persons to greet him was North Carolina Governor Jim Martin.

Then it was time for Dean Smith’s number one ranked Tar Heels (17-0), led by senior James Daye, to take the floor for the first time in their new home.  The third-ranked Duke Blue Devils (16-0) followed.  At exactly 1:18 PM, Coach Smith walked into the arena and walked directly over the where Bowles was seated, took both his hands, leaned close and whispered, “Skipper, this wouldn’t have happened without you.”  Bowles smiled broadly and then was helped to mid-court for the ceremonial toss to begin the game.  Skipper’s grandson Sammy was there to help his grandfather.

Ceremonial jump ball, Duke versus UNC before first game at Dean Smith Center

The ceremonial “jump ball” toss before the first game at the Dean Smith Center, played between hosting UNC and visiting Duke University.  Hargrove “Skipper” Bowles is seated in the wheelchair, with Skipper’s brother Richard Bowles behind and Skipper’s grandson Sammy Bowles (Erskine Bowles’ son) at his side. Carolina players in white are (left to right) guard Kenny Smith, jumping center Brad Daugherty, forward Warren Martin, and forward Joe Wolf (#24). Duke players in blue: jumping center Danny Ferry, forward Mark Alarie, guard Tommy Amaker (#4). (Hugh Morton photograph, not in the online collection at the time this post was published.)

The official toss to start the Duke versus UNC game in Smith Center (Note: Scoreboard 0-0.) Carolina players in white: (left to right) guard/forward Steve Hale (#25), forward Joe Wolf (#24), Brad Daugherty jumping center, forward Warren Martin (#54), and guard Kenny Smith. Duke players in blue: (left to right) guard Tommy Amaker (#4), forward Mark Alarie (#32), jumping center Danny Ferry (#35), and guard David Henderson (#12). (Hugh Morton photograph, not in the online collection at the time this post was published.)

It was a historic moment in North Carolina sports. With a packed house of 21,426 looking on, Carolina defeated Duke 95 to 92.  The record book shows that Tar Heel Steve Hale scored a career high 28 points, and Kenny Smith and Jeff Lebo combined for 50 points.  Brad Daugherty and Joe Wolf led a 38 to 30 rebounding advantage.  The Heels went to 18 and 0.

Following the game several fans left the arena and headed out into what would become “Skipper Bowles Drive”; many others, including Bowles, stayed around just to take in the moment. “I was overwhelmed,” said Bowles softly. “I knew how big it was going to be, and I still was overwhelmed.”

American flag hanging from rafters of Dean Smith Center.

American flag hanging from rafters of Dean Smith Center. (Hugh Morton photograph made in January 1994.)

When photographer Hugh Morton entered the building for the first time he noticed that the American flag imported from Carmichael to the new facility was dwarfed in the spacious new building.  So Morton took a flag catalog over to the basketball office and asked them to pick out a new, bigger one.  Once in hand, Morton flew the flag over Grandfather Mountain, Mount Mitchell, the Biltmore House, the State Capitol, the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, and the Wright Brothers National Monument.  Satisfied that the flag now suitably represented the state of North Carolina, Morton handed it over to UNC, and it now hangs proudly over center court.

Smith Center Dedication Pro-Alumni Game particiapants

Notable UNC basketball alumni (left to right) Sam Perkins (#41), Michael Jordan (#23), Lenny Rosenbluth (#10), Mike O’Koren (#31), James Worthy (#52), Phil Ford (#12), and Charlie Scott (#33), who participated in the Smith Center Dedication Pro-Alumni Game, September 6, 1986.

The formal dedication ceremony for the Smith Center was held on September 6, 1986.  A pro-alumni game was staged that afternoon, because Coach Smith wanted to celebrate the players who made the program great: Lenny Rosenbluth, Sam Perkins, James Worthy, Phil Ford, Michael Jordan, and many others came back to be a part of the dedication game.  In his dedication remarks,  Athletics Director John Swofford remembered what he called a sharp image from that first game in the Smith Center.  “The image of “Skipper” Bowles and his grandson sharing a ceremonial ball toss just seconds before game time.  It was altogether a nice moment for Bowles, his family, and all the people pulling for him.  I was thrilled he could be there even if I did have a hard time keeping my own composure.”

The day after the dedication game, Sunday September 7, 1986, Hargrove “Skipper” Bowles, Jr. lost his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He was 66 years old.

“Skipper” Bowles’ fingerprints are all over the Dean E. Smith Student Activity Center and the donors’ room is called Hargrove “Skipper” Bowles Hall.  In an interview in early January, 1986 with Carolina Blue editor John Kilgo, Bowles looked back on the SAC effort.  “That project was fun and I wouldn’t take anything for the experience.  I don’t want but two things. I’d like to toss up the first ball in the building, and I’d like to see it named for Dean Smith.”

Both wishes came true.

Editor’s note: In the process of preparing this post, several images of the Dean Dome’s opening night festivities—both represented and not represented in the online collection— have been been discovered that were not previously identified.  Not all of the descriptions for these images could be updated in the online collection and finding aid in time for publication.  Once that work is completed they will be described in a more accurate manner to make them more easily discoverable.  For an example, several pre-game photographs, including a photograph of Governor James Martin and others along the sidelines during the national anthem, can been seen by searching on their current title, “UNC basketball, wide-angle.” (<—click to see them!)  Once the descriptions for these new discoveries have been cleaned up, this editor’s note will be updated; the work is likely to be gradual, however, so diehard Tar Heel fans may want to check back from time to time.  More mysteries solved; more wishes coming true.

The Madness of March: Two Championships Uniquely Remembered (Part Two)

This is part two of A View to Hugh contributor Jack Hilliard’s personal look back at two of Carolina’s NCAA basketball championships.  The Tar Heels championship aspirations for 2012 fell short, with a loss in its “Elite Eight” match-up against Kansas last week.  Thirty years ago today, the Tar Heel squad made it all the way to the top.

A dear coworker of mine, Bill Richards, passed away on March 18th while watching the Tar Heels play their “Sweet Sixteen” game against Creighton in the NCAA tournament.  In addition to being an avid UNC football and basketball fan, Bill was the senior digitization technician in the Carolina Digital Library and Archives.  His knowledge and skills with scanning technologies, Photoshop, and high-end inkjet printing were formidable, and he taught me most of what little (by comparison) that I know on those topics.  In 1982, Bill was the Chief Photographer for the Chapel Hill Newspaper,  In 1988, he began working as a photographer and graphic designer in the UNC Office of Sports information.  He began working in the Library Photographic Service  in 1998, but continued working for Sports information into the 2000s. This post is dedication to one of the best colleagues with whom I have ever worked.

1982 NCAA trophy and the UNC Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower

1982 NCAA trophy and the UNC Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower

Twenty five years after Frank McGuire’s 1957 miracle, the University of North Carolina was in position to win another NCAA championship.  Like the 1957 team, the 1982 team won 30 games going into the final four.  The only difference: the ’57 team hadn’t lost, while the ’82 team had lost twice.  Unlike 1957 championship game, however, Hugh Morton was there.

On the night of March 29, 1982 many Tar Heel fans will remember hearing Woody Durham, the voice of the Tar Heels, exclaim:

“The Tar Heels are going to win the National Championship.”

Those words triggered a Franklin Street celebration of epic proportions.  30,000 fans and alumni came out to celebrate.  The party had been 25 years in the making.  I recall working that night at WFMY-TV and we had our microwave truck on Franklin Street.  News 2 Anchor Sybil Robson reported as the celebration surrounded her.  It was good TV.  Eddie Marks, writing in the Greensboro Daily News, on March 30th described the celebration:

“Pandemonium, hysteria, fireworks and beer.  This is the stuff national championships are made of.”

The celebration finally ended about 4:00 a.m.

University of North Carolina men's basketball head coach Dean Smith on sidelines during Final Four, March 1982

University of North Carolina men's basketball head coach Dean Smith on sidelines, with Assistant Coach Roy Williams and Assistant Coach Eddie Fogler sitting on bench in background. (Cropped by the editor.)

The 1981-82 UNC Tar Heel team was head coach Dean Smith’s 21st team, and was his best to date. The semifinal win over Houston and the national championship victory over Coach John Thompson’s Georgetown Hoyas marked Smith’s 467th and 468th wins.  It was his first National Championship.  (Smith would go on to win a second NCAA championship in 1993 and would win a total 879 games before his retirement on October 9, 1997.)

Wide-angle shot of the Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, March 1982

Wide-angle shot of the Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, site of UNC's NCAA men's National Championship games, March 27-29, 1982

The 1982 NCAA final game was played before 61,612 fans in the Louisiana Superdome.  It was the 44th NCAA tournament final and it marked the first game to be televised by CBS Sports under a new NCAA contract.  That contract is still in effect, and CBS marks the 31st anniversary of NCAA championships this month. (NBC had carried the championship game since 1969.)  But on this night in ‘82 Gary Bender and Billy Packer brought the game to fans across the country.

With 32 seconds left and trailing by one, Coach Smith called a time out, set a play, and told Michael Jordan to “knock it down.”  Jordan did just that, providing the margin for the 63-62 victory.

University of North Carolina Tar Heels men's basketball player Michael Jordan cutting basketball net after winning the 1982 NCAA championship.

University of North Carolina Tar Heels men's basketball player Michael Jordan cutting basketball net after winning the 1982 NCAA championship.

Morton remembered the confusion after the game as the security folks tried to get Coach Smith and his team off the court.  Morton said Smith grabbed him by the arm and said, “Stick with me.”  He then turned to the security guard, pointed at Morton and said, “He’s with us.”  This provided Hugh Morton a unique opportunity for some fantastic pictures.

Former UNC Head Coach Frank McGuire (right) congratulates Head Coach Dean Smith after winning the 1982 NCAA championship.

Former UNC Head Coach Frank McGuire (right) congratulates Head Coach Dean Smith after winning the 1982 NCAA championship.

Frank McGuire was one of the first to congratulate Coach Smith and Morton got the shot.  In the aftermath of the victory hugs and smiles, there were some tears.  Georgetown All America Eric “Sleepy” Floyd could not hold back his emotions.  His 18-point effort simply had not been enough.  He congratulated his friend and fellow Gastonian Tar Heel All America James Worthy.  Again, Morton captured the emotion of the moment.

James Worthy and Eric "Sleepy" Floyd after the 1982 NCAA Championship game.

James Worthy and Eric "Sleepy" Floyd. Coach Dean Smith looks on. (P081_NTBR2_002047_22; cropped by editor.)

The headline in the Greensboro Daily News on Wednesday, March 31st described the Tar Heel Tuesday afternoon welcome back to Chapel Hill as a “Blue Frenzy.”  20,000 cheering fans packed the north side of Kenan Stadium long before the scheduled 3:00 p.m. celebration.  There were T-shirt vendors selling souvenirs from the back of station wagons parked at the Stadium gate.  A Franklin Street bakery was set up selling Carolina blue gingerbread men.

The official party began when “Voice of the Tar Heels” Woody Durham ran onto the field and yelled, “How ‘bout them Heels!”  Then the team bus arrived from Raleigh-Durham Airport and each team member spoke to the delight of the crowd.

As the homecoming celebration began to wrap up, Sky 2, Sky 5 and Chopper 11, helicopters from three of North Carolina’s TV stations jockeyed for position overhead, trying to get that perfect aerial crowd shot for the evening news.  That too was good TV.

The Madness of March: Two Championships Uniquely Remembered (Part One)

The “Sweet Sixteen” round of March Madness begins today, so  A View to Hugh contributor Jack Hilliard takes a personal look back at a very special time in Carolina basketball history—1957— in part one of a two-part series.  Part two will recall UNC’s 1982 championship.

Update on 3/28/2012: Working on part two today,  I discovered that I inadvertently omitted a dedication request by the author when I was constructing this post.  The post is dedicated to the 1957 team manager, Joel Fleishman,  who passed away earlier this month.  As a News-Record.com news brief put it, “Joel Fleishman was the manager of the 1957 North Carolina Tar Heels until the day he died.”

UNC men's basketball coach Frank McGuire posed with basketball hoop, net, and ball

UNC-Chapel Hill men’s basketball coach Frank McGuire posing with basketball hoop, net, and signed ball commemorating 1957 NCAA Championship win.

It was 55 years ago . . . March 23, 1957, that we heard this call from WPTF radio play-by-play announcer Jim Reid:

. . . we win 54 to 53.  North Carolina did it . . . Great day in the morning.

This radio broadcast has become a classic, but the television coverage of that championship game played a significant role in television sports history as well.

Friday, March 15, 1957 was career day at Asheboro High School.  Representing careers in television was Jack Markham a producer/director from WFMY-TV in Greensboro.  I remember how excited he was that his station was going to carry Carolina’s Eastern Regional game that night against Canisius from the Palestra in Philadelphia.  Many of us at Asheboro High had seen the ’57 Tar Heels when they came to town to play the McCrary Eagles in an exhibition game on December 1, 1956—a game that Carolina won but did not become part of the 32 and 0 season.

The day before, on March 14th, WFMY’s general manager Gaines Kelley had announced the station would follow Carolina in both its East regional games.  (In those days the first-round loser played a consolation game the next day.)  Said Kelley: “We at WFMY-TV are as proud of the Tar Heels as anybody else, and we are happy to be able to give fans in our coverage area a chance to see the game on live television.”  The Greensboro station had a special interest in carrying the UNC games because WFMY-TV produced the weekly Frank McGuire Show.

This regional NCAA network had been set up by station WPFH-TV in Wilmington, Delaware with Matt Koukas, a former Philadelphia Warrior NBA star, doing the play-by-play.  Of course the NCAA was in full control of the telecasts with their man, Castleman D. Chesley, leading the broadcast team.  Other North Carolina TV stations on the network included WBTV in Charlotte, and WTVD in Durham.

The undefeated Tar Heels were 28-0 and Coach Frank McGuire, upon arrival in Philadelphia, told the press, “This is a road club . . . winning 21 games on the road.”  The coach was then reminded that it was really only 20 road games.  McGuire added: “But I still count McCrary as a game because nobody can tell me that we didn’t have a really tough night down there in Asheboro.”

Road wins continued as the Tar Heels beat Canisius that Friday night and then beat Syracuse the following night.  It was on to Kansas City, Missouri for the final four (although it wasn’t called “The Final Four” in those days.)  Carolina was 30 and 0 going into Kansas City, but it hadn’t always been easy.  There had been close overtime games at South Carolina and Maryland—and then there was Murray Greason’s Wake Forest Demon Deacons.  The Tar Heels and Deacons had met four times during the 1956-57 season and each one had been close.  Two regular season games, a game in the Dixie Classic, and a two-point game in the ACC Tournament.  Coach Frank McGuire had great respect for Wake and he often spoke of it in interviews.

Before the games in Philadelphia started, C.D. Chesley was already working on a NCAA network for Kansas City.  On Wednesday, March 20, WFMY General Manager Kelley made another announcement.  Again Chesley had put together a network of five North Carolina TV stations for the games in Kansas City, and WFMY, WBTV, and WTVD would be a part of it.  He added that his Sports Director Charlie Harville and his Chief Photographer Buddy Moore would be traveling with the Tar Heels.  Kelley also liked to plug his game sponsors which were Carolina Steel, Guilford Dairy, and Security National Bank.

Hugh Morton didn’t travel to Kansas City for the championship weekend, but when he heard that the games were going to be on TV, and since the coverage area didn’t extend to the North Carolina coast, he and wife Julia headed to Raleigh, checked into the Sir Walter Hotel and watched the games there.

Both the National Semifinal with Michigan State and the National Final with 7-foot, 2-inch Wilt Chamberlain and Kansas in Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium turned out to be classics.  Triple overtimes each night, with UNC Center Joe Quigg hitting two foul shots with six seconds remaining in the final overtime against Dick Harp’s Kansas Jayhawks to win the National Championship. The telecast had some other memorable moments.  At halftime, WFMY-TV Sports Director Charlie Harville interviewed North Carolina Governor Luther Hodges, who predicted a Carolina win. Hodges had flown in along with his private secretary Ed Rankin, Lt. Governor Luther Barnhardt, and several other members of the NC legislature.  Their flight, on a DC-3 owned by Burlington Industries, left Raleigh-Durham Airport at nine o’clock on Saturday morning.  A police escort met the Governor’s party at the Mid-Continent International Airport and took them to a Tar Heel gathering at Hotel Continental in downtown Kansas City.  Then it was off to Municipal Auditorium where they joined 10,500 other fans.

Back in the WFMY-TV studios in Greensboro, staff announcer Lee Kinard, who had been with the station less than a year, prepared to do his live Guilford Dairy commercial.  Kinard recalls the sponsor wanted the commercial to feature ice cream, but under the hot TV lights, ice cream didn’t hold up very well, and since there were no TV-times-outs in those days, the Greensboro crew didn’t know when the commercial was going to come.  Said Kinard, “We kept putting out fresh ice cream and it just kept melting during those three overtimes.”

Lee Kinard would go on to become a legendary hall of fame broadcaster with a career spanning more than 45 years.

Following the broadcasts, both radio and TV, a celebration broke out on Franklin Street with thousands of students and alumni.

Chapel Hill author and historian Roland Giduz writing a special report for the Greensboro Daily News described what he saw along Franklin Street:

A zany bedlam enveloped this usually quiet college community shortly past the stroke of midnight…The celebration was the biggest in Chapel Hill since the night before—following the Tar Heels’ triple-overtime win over Michigan State.  And the latter was the wildest spontaneous rally local officials could recall since V-J night 12 years ago.

Crowd at Raleigh Durham Airport greeting the UNC men's basketball team after winning the NCAA championship.

Crowd at Raleigh Durham Airport awaiting the UNC men’s basketball team after winning the NCAA championship (P081_PRBP5_006878).

The celebration in Chapel Hill wasn’t close to the size of the one at Raleigh-Durham Airport.  About 2:10 p.m. on Sunday, March 24, 1957, Eastern Airlines Flight 527 was on final approach to RDU when the pilots got a message from the tower: “Go around while the police clear the runway.”  About 15,000 Tar Heel well-wishers had gathered to welcome the 32 and 0 Tar Heels home.  Among the 15,000 was photographer Hugh Morton with camera in hand.

UNC 1957 Basketball team deplaning at RDUAbout 15 minutes later the Lockheed Constellation carrying the victorious Tar Heels landed to thunderous cheers.  Coach McGuire and team captain Lennie Rosenbluth were not part of the celebration.  Rosenbluth was headed to New York as a member of the Look magazine All America team, which was scheduled to be on “The Ed Sullivan Show” that night. Coach McGuire had been on the “Sullivan Show” the Sunday before as the United Press national coach of the year.  This weekend he stayed in Kansas City to coach in the All-Star game with his old buddy, Navy Head Coach Ben Carnevale, as his assistant. (Carnevale was UNC’s Head Basketball Coach from 1944 to 1946.)  Rosenbluth was to fly back in time for the Monday night All-Star game.

In the middle of the crowd at RDU was UNC Chancellor Robert B. House who had a speech prepared, but wasn’t able to give it because of the noise.  About thirty minutes later, the Hodges’ group landed.  Said the Governor: “It was great but I don’t think I could take another game like that one.”

While Coach Frank McGuire was in Philadelphia for the Eastern Regional, he had received a special telegram from back home.  He read it to his team before the Eastern Regional final with Syracuse.  He then put it in his jacket pocket. He carried it with him to Kansas City and decided to read it again before the NCAA final game with Kansas.

The telegram read:

Best wishes and all the luck in the world.  You proved it to us; now prove it to the nation.

It was signed by each member of the Wake Forest basketball team, Head Coach Murray Greason and Assistant Coach Bones McKinney.  In the early morning hours of Sunday, March 24th, the victory bell in the old Wake Forest administration building rang out celebrating the Tar Heel win.

And, as for Jack Markham and that career day at ASH . . . well six years later Markham had risen to program director and production manager and in January of 1963 he hired a young UNC grad as a production assistant at WFMY-TV.  I would work there for 42 years.

For more photographs from the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives of the UNC 1956-1957 basketball season, visit the webpage McGuire’s Miracle.

Correction: on 13 June 2014, the type of plane that brought the UNC team to RDU was changed to “Lockheed Constellation,” which was previously described as a DC-7.  See http://pages.suddenlink.net/w4ydy/unc1957.html for color slides made at the event, which clearly show the aircraft.

Photographs from the 1942 Southern Conference Tournament

Today’s post is the third and final on the 1942 Southern Conference Basketball Tournament, which we have been featuring on its seventieth anniversary in conjunction with the fifty-ninth annual Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament taking place March 8th through 11th, 2012.

Some of the photographs shown below are not available in the online collection of Hugh Morton’s photographs at the time of this posting.  They will be added to the collection in the future.  Those images that are available in the collection can be seen without cropping by clicking on the image.

Many of the people portrayed in these photographs are unidentified.  If you can provide any identifications please leave a comment!

Duke bench during games versus Washington and Lee, March 5th, 1942.

Duke bench during game against Washington and Lee

Members of the Duke University men's basketball team and head coach Edmund "Eddie" Cameron seated on sideline. Labeled "For 2003 reprint book." A similar photograph of Cameron with different players appears in the March 6, 1942 issue of THE CHARLOTTE NEWS, so the event is likely the Southern Conference basketball tournament game versus Washington and Lee at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium played on March 5th.

UNC bench during game against Wake Forest, March 5th, 1942.

UNC bench during 1942 Southern Conference Tournament game against Wake Forest College

UNC men's basketball players and coach Bill Lange on sidelines during basketball game, probably 1942 Southern Conference tournament game versus Wake Forest at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, NC. (Identification of location based upon the above similar photograph of Duke's bench made from same vantage point.)

North Carolina Sate versus University of South Carolina, March 5th, 1942.

North Carolina State versus University of South Carolina game

Action from the North Carolina State versus University of South Carolina game, March 5th, 1942. (P081_NTBS3_006368)

College of William and Mary versus George Washington University, March 5th 1942.

William and Mary versus George Washington University

A struggle for possession during the William and Mary versus George Washington University opening round game played on March 5th 1942.

Bench photographs of unidentified teams, players, or coaches

William and Mary players and coach

William and Mary players and coach (P081_NTBS3_006370). Note the photographer (perhaps!) on the right side of the image, seated next to what looks to be a camera with mounted flash unit.

 

Unidentified team, 1942 Southern Tournament

Unidentified team and coach (P081_NTBS3_006371).

George Washington University players and coach during 1942 Southern Conference Tournament

George Washington University players and coach during 1942 Southern Conference Tournament (P081_NTBS3_006369).

Duke versus Wake Forest, March 6th, 1942.

Duke versus Wake Forest during 1942 Southern Conference Tournament

Scene from the Wake Forest College vs. Duke University game. Morton's photograph (cropped to show only three players on left) appears in the 8 March 1942 edition of the WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL AND SENTINEL with caption, "Gantt on the Lose—Big Bob Gantt, one of those five flaming Duke sophs, is shown here breaking down the court during the Wake Forest game Friday night. He had just taken the ball off the Wake backboard and is en route to his as Jim Bonds, deacon forward, partially blocks his way. Garland Loftis of Duke is the other player. Duke won 54–45."

 North Carolina State versus William and Mary, March 7th, 1942.

Weary Bones McKinney

This photograph captures Horace "Bones" McKinney on floor with towel during N.C. State University game versus William and Mary in the tournament semifinal. This photograph (or one made within a split second) is similarly cropped as it appeared in the CHARLOTTE NEWS with the caption, "WEARY BONES McKINNEY was glad to stretch out on the floor during a time out last night as his N. C. State ball club fought off a last-minute rally by William and Mary and came out with a 53-52 victory that sent the Terrors into the tourney title-round for the first time since it was moved to Raleigh in 1933." Click on the image to see the full negative.

 

McKinney hoists Carvalho

This Morton photograph appeared in the WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL AND SENTINEL with the caption “Clown Prince Gets Happy—Bones McKinney, tall N. C. State center, hoists Little Buckwheat Carvalho after the Terrors had beaten William and Mary in the semifinals of the conference tourney, 53-52. Bones was the top scorer in the loop this year with 300 points.” Little Buckwheat’s real first name was Paul. (P081_NTBS3_006374)

Championship game, Duke versus North Carolina State, March 7th, 1942.

Duke versus NCSU 1942 Southern Conference Tournament

Cropped view from the only surviving negative of an action shot made during the Duke versus North Carolina State championship game to be discovered thus far in the Morton Collection (P081_NTBS3_006375). The entire negative as shot can be seen below. See the previous blog post for Morton's published photograph of the Duke team and fans after receiving the tournament trophy.

Duke versus NCSU (not cropped)

In the shadows of greatness . . . on the shoulders of giants

1942 Southern Conference Queen

Anne Geoghegan, 1942 Southern Conference basketball tournament queen.

Today’s post is by frequent contributor Jack Hilliard and is the second post on the 1942 Southern Conference Basketball Tournament

Background: When the 59th annual Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament tips off at noon on March 8th in Atlanta’s Philips Arena, the players and coaches of the twelve teams (soon to be fourteen) will be playing “in the shadows of greatness and on the shoulders of giants.”  Not only have the fifty-eight previous tournaments and players set a high standard, but the ACC’s parent conference, the Southern Intercollegiate Conference, played at an equally high standard for thirty-two seasons.

The Southern Intercollegiate Conference, or Southern Conference as it has been called over the years, or SoCon as it is often called today, was founded on February 25, 1921 when representatives from 14 of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s (SIAA) 30 member institutions met at the Piedmont Hotel in Atlanta.  Among the fourteen member schools were North Carolina State and the University of North Carolina. The decision to form a new conference was motivated in part by the desire to have a workable number of games by each member school.  It was impossible for the thirty member schools in the SIAA to play each other each year.  (Does that sound familiar Carolina and State fans?)

Play began in the Southern Conference in the fall of 1921 and men’s basketball was the first sport to hold a tournament.  The inaugural tournament was held in Atlanta’s Municipal Auditorium and was won by North Carolina.  Monk McDonald and Billy Carmichael led Carolina as they won five tournament games to claim the championship.

An interesting side note: Carolina went without a head coach during the 1921–22 and 1922–23 seasons because Fred Boye left after one year and they could not find a replacement.  Bob Fetzer, who coached football and baseball for North Carolina, would often accompany the team on road games but would sit in the stands.  Carolina would win seven more Southern Conference championships.  Duke joined the Southern Conference in 1928 and won its first of five tournaments in 1938.  NC State won its first tournament in 1929.

At the Southern Conference annual meeting on December 9, 1932, Dr. S.V. Sanford of the University of Georgia announced that thirteen of the then twenty-three Southern Conference schools would be forming the Southeastern Conference thus leaving the Southern Conference with ten members.  Wake Forest joined in 1936 and by 1942 there were sixteen teams.

A side note from the editor: an organization named the Naismith Memorial Committee dubbed the period of December 1941 to December 1942 as the “golden jubilee of basketball”—which was really their capital campaign to raise funds for the construction of a monument to honor basketball’s founder James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts.  The effort was delayed in the face of World War II, but it was an early effort to establish what is now the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Duke basketball team after winning the 1942 Southern Conference Tournament.

This Morton photograph appeared in THE CHARLOTTE NEWS, captioned "DUKE'S HAPPINESS BOYS with another basketball title: Clyde Allen, Garland Loftis, captain Ray Spuhler, Cedric Loftis, Bill McCahan, Sam Rothbaum, Coach Eddie Cameron. They grinned about the trophy, but they knew it was coming all the time."

1942 Southern Conference Basketball Tournament:  The Southern Conference held its 1942 basketball tournament in Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium with its top eight teams.  On March 5th, 1942, the 21st Southern Conference Tournament tipped off with Duke playing Washington and Lee.  Greensboro Daily News sportswriter Frank Gilbreth’s lead sentence on March first was:  “Washington and Lee’s Generals today drew the suicide assignment of playing top-seeded Duke . . . in the opening round of the Southern Conference Basketball Tournament.”  The Duke–W&L game was followed by UNC vs. Wake Forest, and North Carolina State vs. South Carolina.  Yesterday’s post feature a photograph from the USC–State contest.  Duke prevailed in its contest, and the Deacons, led by Herb Cline upset the UNC White Phantoms 32-26.

UNC versus Wake Forest College in the 1942 Southern Conference Tournamant

Herb Cline of Wake Forest College and UNC's Reid Suggs during in the opening round of the 1942 Southern Conference Tournament

Two days later, Duke and NC State squared off in the finals with Duke winning its third Southern Conference Tournament.  Clyde Allen, Duke’s veteran center and Hap Spuhler led the boys from Durham, while the star of the North Carolina State “Red Terrors” (as they were called then) was Horace Albert “Bones” McKinney—easily the most memorable player in the ’42 tournament.  McKinney would go on to play for UNC after the war, and later coach at Wake Forest.  And he even had a Duke connection: McKinney played for Durham High where three of his teammates (Bob Gantt, Garland Loftis, and Cedric Loftis) went on to play for Duke in 1942.

Horace "Bones" McKinney drinking from a ladle at the 1942 Southern Conference Tournament

Horace "Bones" McKinney drinking from a ladle at the 1942 Southern Conference Tournament.

Several of Hugh Morton’s images from the ’42 tournament—featured throughout this post—appeared in newspapers thought the state, including the Charlotte News, Greensboro Daily News, Winston-Salem Journal and Sentinel, and, of course, the UNC student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel. In future years, Morton would become a permanent fixture courtside at Southern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference tournaments well into the 2000s.

Southern Conference . . . Atlantic Coast Conference:  Basketball in North Carolina changed forever in 1946 with the arrival of Everett Case at North Carolina State.  Starting in 1947 and continuing through the 1952 season, Case won six straight Southern Conference Tournaments.  Names like Dick Dickey, Vic Molodet, Ronnie Shavlik, Lou Pucillo, Cliff Dwyer, Sam Ranzino became familiar to almost everyone in the state.  It was a magical time in Raleigh.  State beat Carolina fourteen times between 1947 and 1952.

Enter Frank Joseph McGuire.  Coach McGuire was given two challenges when he came into Chapel Hill in 1952: beat State, then beat everybody else.  He did both.  On January 24, 1953 he finally broke the long losing streak by beating NC State 70-69.

Later, in the spring of 1953, there was another conference meeting.  This one at the Sedgefield Inn in Greensboro on April 8th, and yet another change for the Southern Conference was in order.  By then the conference had grown to seventeen teams so seven members withdrew to form what would become the Atlantic Coast Conference.  Among the seven were Carolina, Duke, Wake, and State.  And four seasons later, Frank McGuire was able to overcome the second part of that challenge by beating everybody else.  It’s often called “McGuire’s Miracle.”  During the 1956-57 season UNC won 32 games and a national championship.  New “giants” made the news: Lennie Rosenbluth, Pete Brennan, Joe Quigg, Bob Cunningham, and Tommy Kearns.  Plenty more from teams in North Carolina would follow, with NC State’s National Championships in 1974 and 1983, Duke’s in 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, and UNC’s 1924, 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005, 2009.

Who knows what “March Madness” will bring in 2012?

1942 Southern Conference basketball tournament

University of South Carolina versus North Carolina State University, 1942 Southern Conference Tournament

Today’s post the first of a combined effort between Jack Hilliard and Stephen Fletcher to report on the 1942 Southern Conference Tournament, which coincides with this week’s Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

UNC and WWII during the winter of 1942:  I’ve been living an on-again-off-again life in the winter of 1942 for some weeks now, researching images made by Hugh Morton before he enlisted in the United States Army in the early autumn later that year.  This double-life springs from the post marking the seventieth anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, which had a profound impact on the lives of Hugh Morton and his fellow students at UNC.  A few posts have examined Morton’s photographs depicting activities on campus related to America’s entrance into the second world war, especially those appearing in The Daily Tar Heel (DTH) student newspaper, for which Morton was the staff photographer.  The last post of this type focused on Eleanor Roosevelt’s visit to UNC on January 31st, 1942.

With the exception of one photograph (identified just this week) no Morton photographs depicting war related activities or subjects appeared in the DTH.  That photograph, an uncredited portrait of UNC business manager Livingston B. Rogerson in the February 15th issue, illustrated a front page article informing DTH readers that Rogerson was also serving as the Coordinator of the Office of Civilian Defense—a joint effort between the university and village of Chapel Hill.  Nearly all of Morton’s photographs published in the DTH during this period were sports photographs.

Basketball, 1942:  A blog post in early February 2012 on the day of UNC men’s basketball game against Duke included a minimally identified negative.  Investigations by two of our readers (thank you Jack and Jake!) led to more accurate identification for that image.  In one comment during the online deliberation, Jack Hilliard noted that the other, unidentified photograph (made on 11 February 1942 at Woollen Gym) was in the 1979 book The Winning Tradition: A Pictorial History of Carolina Basketball.  While I was looking for that photograph in the book, the above photograph on a different page caught my eye—or at least the author’s caption did:

This photograph is believed to be one of photographer Hugh Morton’s earliest action shots and captures all the excitement of Carolina basketball in the early 40s: a packed Woollen Gym, plenty of action underneath the boards and those crazy stripped [sic] socks.  There was, however, one problem—our editors searched high and low for the identification of the players but came up empty handed.

I both hate and love seeing captions like that!

One morning while preparing this week’s post, I took a peek into the beginning of the book Hugh Morton’s North Carolina.  On the first page, Morton stated that he had shot a lot of freelance work for the Charlotte News, especially sports, when he was a UNC student.  That made me wonder if the newspaper might have published a Morton photograph of the 1942 Southern Conference tournament played at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in early March.  Some of the identification work I had been doing had led me to discover some photographs I suspected may have been made during that tournament.

The newspaper did indeed publish a few Morton photographs during that weekend, including the photograph above.  For today’s featured photograph, here’s most of the caption written by the Charlotte News for the March 6th issue, which will immediately reveal why the The Winning Tradition editors couldn’t identify the UNC players:

IN A PRETTY GOOD STATE yesterday afternoon were the Terrors’ chance of winning a tourney title at Raleigh as they ousted South Carolina, 56-43.  Photographer Hugh Morton’s camera caught this glimpse of a basketball ballet under the State basket in the first half with Buck Cavalho and Strayhorn of State; Brogden, Dunham and Westmoreland of South Carolina and Bernie Mock of State in a graceful array. . . .”

The Red Terrors was one of several nicknames used by North Carolina State University athletic teams before Wolfpack, and the photograph depicts a scene from the opening round game played on March 5, 1942.

Tomorrow’s post: Jack Hilliard presents an historical background of the Southern Conference.

It’s that time of the year once more

Tonight, the University of North Carolina and Duke University will take to the hardwood for the 233rd time.  Their first contests took place in 1920, so its remarkable to think that when Hugh Morton photographed these two teams playing during his college years, today’s arch rivals had been playing against each other for “only” twenty years or so!

Duke at UNC basketball game, February 7, 1942

UNC vs. Duke University men's basketball game at Woollen Gymnasium, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC. Photograph (cropped) appears in the 11 February 1942 issue of THE DAILY TAR HEEL with caption, " SOME OF THE HEATED play in the first half of the Duke contest is seen in this action photo by cameraman Hugh Morton. Captain Bob Rose and Duke's Stark are on the floor trying to throw the ball in to teammates. George Paine and Clyde Allen are battling for possession of the elusive sphere while McCahan, (48), Reid Suggs, (17), and Rothbaum, (58), look on." Duke won the game 52-40.

As the caption above describes, The Daily Tar Heel cropped Hugh Morton’s photograph shown above—it focused on the players and left out the referee (before the striped jersey era!) and the basket above the action.  Without cropping, the full view gives a better sense of the atmosphere of Woollen Gymnasium.

Below is another photograph from a UNC–Duke basketball game, but this one is without a date.  Is this a different game at a different location? Anybody want to try their hand at identifications? (Clicking on the photograph will take you to the online collection, where you can use the zoom tool.)

UNC versus Duke basketball game, undated

 

It’s ACC tournament time!

Evey year when Earth reaches this part of its orbit around the sun, another globe reaches its pinnacle: Basketball at the annual ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament.  The Atlantic Coast Conference held its first men’s basketball tournament in 1954 at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, making this year its 58th occurrence. And while some may think the ACC and its annual affair has lost its luster, (note that the linked-to article is illustrated by a Morton photograph) it will still generate excitement for many—especially those in our spot on the planet where UNC and Duke might just have another chance to battle each other on the neutral court inside Greensboro Coliseum.

Although Hugh Morton photographed basketball games well before 1954, he seems to have photographed his first ACC tournament in 1958. No negatives prior to the 1958 tournament have surfaced after processing.  The photograph above depicts UNC coach Frank McGuire during an ACC Tournament game that year, and the pinback button is one of only two official photographer’s passes for the ACC tournament in the Morton collection. (The other pass is for 1969.) Want to see more ACC Tournament photographs by Morton? Follow the link to view more than 300 scanned thus far in the online image collection . . . and see if you can find the photograph of a “jump ball” being tossed by a North Carolina governor!

Happy Birthday, Dean Smith

Yesterday marked the 80th birthday of UNC’s legendary basketball coach, Dean Smith. (Sorry, coach, I know you are a stickler for being on time but I’ve been sick and away from the office, so this is a belated greeting!).

The Hugh Morton Collection of Photographs and Films currently has 197 images of Smith online—either for your virtual photographic reminiscence of or initial introduction to a beloved Tar Heel—including the image above depicting Coach Smith signaling for the “four corners” offense during a game in the early 1990s. And while you’re visiting A View to Hugh, please take a moment to read Art Chansky’s essay, “The Tar Heels’ ‘White House Photographer,'” on Hugh Morton’s Tar Heel sports photography, which features an anecdote or two about and a few photographs of Coach Dean Smith.