A medal for Dean

There will be some great Tar Heel news out of Washington, D.C. today—November 20th, 2013.  Morton collection volunteer and blog contributor Jack Hilliard takes a look at an honor for one of the greatest Tar Heels ever.

Dean SmithCan you name two things each of the following has in common?

  • Bob Hope
  • Walter Cronkite
  • Lowell Thomas
  • David Brinkley
  • Andy Griffith
  • Adm. Arleigh Burke
  • John Glenn
  • Arnold Palmer
  • Duke Ellington
  • Richard Petty
  • Dr. Billy Graham
  • Presidents John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan

Each one of these distinguished individuals has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and each one has been photographed by world-class photographer Hugh Morton.  We can now add one more name to that list: UNC‘s legendary basketball coach Dean Edwards Smith.  Sixteen distinguished individuals, including the man who was Carolina basketball from 1961 until his retirement following the 1997 season, will receive the medal today at a White House ceremony from President Barack Obama.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, is presented to those who have “made especially meritorious contributions to security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”  President Obama announced the latest list of recipients on August 8, 2013.

Others to receive the medal this year are President Bill Clinton, Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, senators Daniel Inouye and Richard Lugar, astronaut Sally Ride, and entertainers Loretta Lynn and Oprah Winfrey.  Additionally Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize-winning psychologist and author; Mario Molina, Nobel Prize-winning environmental scientist; Arturo Sandoval, Cuban jazz musician; Gloria Steinem, women’s rights activist; Cordy Tindell Vivian, civil rights activist; Judge Patricia Wald, the first woman to serve on the federal appeals court in Washington; and Bayard Rustin, gay civil rights activist.

During his 36 years leading the Tar Heels, coach Smith chalked up 879 wins, 11 final four appearances, 13 ACC championships and two national titles . . . along with an Olympic gold medal in 1976.  Along the way he has been awarded membership in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

In making the announcement, President Obama said, “The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their lives to enriching ours.  This year’s honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world.”

In addition to his basketball resume, Coach Smith was a champion for civil rights, human rights, and academic achievement. The graduation rate for his players is 96 percent.

As a loyal Tar Heel since birth, I was especially pleased to see a positive Carolina athletic story on the evening news and the reaction in Chapel Hill has been likewise, extremely positive.

“I’m so proud of Coach Smith, happy for his family and friends and appreciative to President Obama for this just recognition,” said current UNC Head Basketball Coach Roy Williams who played and coached under Smith’s leadership.

Tar Heel Head Football Coach Larry Fedora said the honor is great news for UNC.  “I can’t imagine how he feels,” Fedora said.  “What a tremendous thing for our university.”

ACC Commissioner John Swofford, a former athletics director at UNC, called Smith, “one of the most successful, honorable and remarkable men I’ve had the privilege of knowing . . . his reach stretches far beyond the sport of basketball.”

Duke University Head Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski said that Smith receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom speaks loudly about Smith as a coach and the game of basketball.  “He used the platform he attained as a coach to have an influence on other areas of our society.  That’s what we should all do,” said Krzyzewski.

There has also been praise for Coach Smith from some of North Carolina’s political leadership in Congress.  “As one of the greatest coaches of the 20th century, Dean Smith revolutionized the game of basketball and brought enormous pride to North Carolina during his 36 years leading the Tar Heels,” said U.S. Senator Kay Hagan. “But while he brought us glorious moments on the court, Dean Smith will forever be known for the sense of equality and justice that he instilled in his players and fought so hard to advance in basketball, in collegiate athletics and in the country as a whole.”  Said Representative David Price: “Dean Smith is known to all North Carolinians for his tremendous success as the coach of the Carolina men’s basketball team, but the Presidential Medal of Freedom recognizes that he has been far more than a coach to his players, his community, and his country.  Throughout his life, Coach Smith has shown courage and determination on some of the most pressing issues of our time, from working to end segregation in college athletics early in his career, to advocating for inclusion in church and community, to supporting equal rights for gay Americans.”

President Barack Obama and President Bill Clinton, along with first ladies Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton will mark the 50th anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy by laying a wreath near his grave site in Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday, November 20th.  In the evening on Wednesday, the President and First Lady will host a White House dinner honoring this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients. These annual awards were initiated by President Kennedy in 1963.

Coach Smith will not be able to attend the presentation ceremony at the White House.  He is struggling with a progressive neurocognitive disorder that affects his memory.  He will be represented by his wife Dr. Linnea Smith, his children, long-time coaching assistant Bill Guthridge, and current UNC Head Basketball Coach Roy Williams.

“We know he would be humbled to be in the company of President Clinton, United States senators, scientists, entertainers, the great Hall of Famer Ernie Banks and the other distinguished Americans who are receiving the award,” Smith’s family said. “We also know he would take this as an opportunity to recognize all the young men who played for him and the assistant coaches who worked with him as well as the University. Again, this medal is a tremendous honor.”

The award ceremony is the kind of event that photographer Hugh Morton would have attended and I choose to believe on November 20th, he will be looking down and smiling.

Tatum’s Tar Heels Sink the Navy

Carolina’s football history with the Naval Academy goes all the way back to 1899, but it was the game in 1957 that Tar Heels often put on their “greatest wins” list.  Morton volunteer/contributor Jack Hilliard takes a brief look at the gridiron history against Navy and highlights that 1957 encounter.

But first . . . an editor’s note about the photographs used in this post.  Something a bit different seems to have happened with Hugh Morton during his coverage of the October 5th, 1957 Navy versus UNC contest.  There are twenty surviving 120 format negatives from the day.  Most of the negatives depict naval cadets in the stands, a few exposures of the team mascots, and a few of the Navy sidelines.  There are no game action photographs and no scenes from the UNC sidelines.  I checked five newspapers and they either did not print photographs or they used staff photographers.  The only Morton photograph was one small head shot of the two UNC scorers that appeared in the Charlotte News–and that negative did not turn up in the scores of unidentified negatives (at least not yet!).  UNC’s Alumni Review game summary used photographs from Durham’s Herald Sun and the Greensboro Daily News.

P081_6_2_1_3_5_02_07 P081_6_2_1_3_5_02_08

. . . we know Uncle Jim (Tatum) and he always comes up with something.

—Marty Zad, sportswriter who covered Navy for The Washington Post in a pregame interview, October 5, 1957

Ten seasons had passed since UNC’s great win over Navy in Baltimore on October 19, 1946 with Charlie Justice and Walt Pupa leading the way that day before 35,000 fans. The ’46 meeting gave Carolina its first win over the Middies in the classic series.  Not only did Carolina lose in 1899, but they lost in 1905 with a team led by Dr. Foy Roberson, Max Gardner and Nat Townsend.  They lost again in 1906.  And not only did they lose those first three games, they were held scoreless.  So that 21 to 14 win in ’46 was a big deal.

But it was a bigger deal, fifty-six years ago, when head coach Eddie Erdelatz brought his Navy team to Chapel Hill for UNC’s Law Alumni Day on October 5, 1957.  The boys from Annapolis were ranked sixth and considered by many sportswriters as “the finest in Navy history.”  Herman Hickman, in his “Hickman’s Hunches” column in Sports Illustrated said “Middies impressive each outing…NAVY.”  Smith Barrier, Sports Editor of the Greensboro Daily News predicted a Navy win touting Navy’s “weight, experience, and versatility.”  With its advertised great depth, Navy would be a 14-point favorite.

So the stage was set for the fifth meeting between the Tar Heels and the Midshipmen.

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25,000 fans, most of whom were Tar Heels including Hugh Morton, poured into an October-chilly and damp Kenan Stadium, but brightening up the visitor’s side of the field was 143 cadets in Navy blue uniforms and white hats.  Their trip to Chapel Hill was a special reward for their selection as the “outstanding color company” at the Naval Academy in 1956.  They formed the entry way for the team as it came on the field.  Leading the team was Bill XIV the Navy goat.

Coming off a 26-to-0 win versus Clemson, the Tar Heels had not read Hickman or Barrier– or if they had, they ignored the predictions–and took command in the first quarter when Dave Reed went in for the first score of the game from inside the one following a Navy fumble and a nine play drive.  Bob Shupin’s point-after made the score 7 to 0 with 51 seconds remaining in the first quarter.  Navy threatened in the second quarter, but couldn’t score and Carolina’s seven points turned out to be the only first half scoring.

On their first possession of the second half, Navy had the ball at their own 31 when Quarterback Tom Forrestal dropped back to pass. Carolina’s co-captain Buddy Payne broke clear of his blocker causing Forrestal to throw short.  Tar Heel Leo Russavage was in position to make the interception with four blockers out front . . . . leading his way 32 yards for a touchdown.  (Ironically Russavage was pictured on the front cover of the game day program that Saturday afternoon).  Shupin missed the point-after-touchdown and the score was 13 to 0 through the third quarter.

Navy took Carolina’s kickoff following the Russavage touchdown, and moved in for a score.  Forrestal, halfback Ned Oldham, and halfback Harry Hurst lead the way on a 73-yard drive.  With 13:50 left in the game, Carolina led 13 to 7.

Following Navy’s kickoff, Carolina was on the move again.  This time it was Tar Heel Halfback Jim Schuler off right tackle for 61 yards for what looked like a third Carolina touchdown. . . but he stepped out of bounds at the Navy 45 right in front of Coach Tatum and the Tar Heel team.  The drive ended at the Navy 27.

The Middies took over with 7:12 on the clock, needing a TD and PAT for the win. Tar Heels John Haywood and Jim Jones bottled up the Navy attack, and Forrestal threw his fourth interception as Jack Cummings made the pick.  The Tar Heels went three and out and Navy had another chance.  Again Forrestal went to the air, and this time Buddy Payne made a one-handed circus catch at the Carolina 26.  With 1:25 remaining, the Tar Heels knew how to run out the clock and preserve a Tar Heel classic win.

Sports Illustrated reported UNC’s win this way in the October 14th issue: “After enjoying two Saturdays with the rinky-dinks, a smooth-sailing Navy ran into first-class opposition, bowed to North Carolina 13-7.  The huge Tar Heels, forever storming over the Middie line, alarmed Quarterback Tom Forrestal into passing the ball when he should have eaten it.”

Looking at the stat sheet for this game is nothing short of amazing:

  • Carolina did not throw a single pass.
  • Navy threw twenty times, completing eleven with Carolina intercepting five.
  • Navy played its first unit 53 minutes and 58 seconds . . . so much for that Navy depth.

The only other blemish on Navy’s 1957 record would be a 7-7 tie with Duke.  Carolina would go 4 and 3 for the remainder of the season including a win over Duke for the first time since 1949.

Against Navy, Jim Tatum was 4 and 0 (winning three times at Maryland) but he was generous and spoke highly of the Navy team.  Coach Erdelatz was something far less.  After promising to be available to the media fifteen minutes after the game, at the prescribed time, he was on the bus headed out of town.

The first words out of Tatum’s mouth at his press conference: “We got wonderful breaks in this ball game.”  When asked about Carolina’s lack of a passing attack, Tatum said,
“We called the running pass seven times in the game.  Of course, sometimes we didn’t get it started as it should have been.”  He then added, “Two things were important to our victory.  Our mental alertness and the fact that we had two teams ready instead of one. We had read all about Navy’s depth but they didn’t play the second unit much, did they?”

Tatum concluded the conference with a comment about the day’s most spectacular play: Jim Schuler’s 61-yard touchdown run that officially was only a 16-yard first down.
“I saw him step out of bounds but I was glad he kept running.  He gained a lot of confidence from that run and he’s going to make a lot more of them.”

Carolina would not play Navy again until 1984 when the Middies once again came to Chapel Hill–and this time they won 33 to 30.  Tar Heel wins in ’85 and ’87 set the stage for one of Carolina’s toughest losses: the 1989 game in a driving rain in Chapel Hill.  Head Coach Mack Brown describes the ‘89 loss in his 2001 book, One Heartbeat: a Philosophy of Teamwork, Life, and Leadership.

My second year at North Carolina, we lost to Navy 12-7, and it was the first time in three years that they had beaten a Division One team.  After the game, I went out to my car and just sat there and cried because I knew we had better players and had lost a game we shouldn’t have lost.

Overall the series stands at five wins for each team. The most recent meeting was a 28 to 14 Mack Brown Tar Heel win in Chapel Hill in 1992.

The Tar Heels versus the Other Carolina

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will kick off its 2013 football season tonight, August 29th, in a nationally televised game broadcast from Columbia, South Carolina.  It will be the fifty-sixth time the two teams have met, with a storied past that dates to 1903.  Morton volunteer/contributor Jack Hilliard takes a brief look at the history of this backyard battle. [EDITOR'S NOTE: this post was updated on 30 August 2013 to resolve an unknown technical gremlin that prevented the webpage from rendering properly.]

Al Grygo, University of South Carolina halfback, running during game with University of North Carolina..

Hugh Morton’s photograph from the 27 September 1941 UNC versus USC football game, cropped as published in The Daily Tar Heel with the caption, “AL GRYGO, SOUTH CAROLINA’S sensational half back, rips through the center of the Tar Heel line for a ten-yard gain during the second quarter of yesterday’s contest. Running interference for him is Krinovak, USC guard and coming in for the tackle are Carolina’s Bill Faircloth [#60], and Joe Austin. The photograph also appeared in the 1942 yearbook Yackety Yack. (In the yearbook caption, Grygo only picked up six yards.)  South Carolina defeated UNC 13-7.

When the University of North Carolina takes the field at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina to start its 125th football season on ESPN College Football Thursday Primetime, I can safely predict that Carolina will win. The thing is, which Carolina?  Will it be Larry Fedora’s North Carolina or Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina?  Vegas money is on the team from the south in 2013 by twelve points, but when these two teams meet, anything might happen as evidenced by what has gone before.

The Tar Heels and the Gamecocks first played on October 10, 1903 with the Heels winning 17 to 0 over a South Carolina team coached by C. R. Williams.  During the eleven games that followed, the boys from the North never lost.  (There were, however, two ties—one in 1912 and one in 1921).  The Gamecocks finally won in 1924.  The two Carolinas met twelve times between 1924 and 1944 with USC winning four and UNC winning six.  Again there were two ties, one in 1928 and one in 1937.  Following South Carolina’s 6-to-0 win in 1944, four seasons went by before the two met again.

When Carl Snavely’s Tar Heels flew into Columbia on Friday, October 7, 1949, they were riding atop an eighteen game regular season winning streak and were primed and ready to meet a strong South Carolina eleven.  UNC’s captain, Charlie Justice, was two games into his senior year and was leading the number sixth ranked Tar Heels.  It was like homecoming for Justice: there were six players on the South Carolina squad from his hometown of Asheville, plus Justice and USC’s head coach Rex Enright were good friends.  Enright had recruited Charlie in January of 1946; at one point Justice was planning to join Enright at USC, but that didn’t work out.

The afternoon of Saturday, October 8, 1949 was warm with a few threatening clouds as 28,500 fans poured into Carolina Stadium, (it’s Williams-Brice Stadium today), setting a record, at the time, for the largest crowd ever to see a football game in the state of South Carolina.

In place on the Tar Heel sideline was photographer Hugh Morton.

Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice evades several USC Gamecocks tacklers.

Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice evades several USC Gamecock tacklers during the October 8, 1949 USC versus USC game at Carolina Stadium. A detail from this negative appears in the February 1951 issue of The Alumni Review.

Writing in the game-day program, columnist “Red” Ballentine said, “When you mention the Tar Heels, there is one gentleman who is foremost in football minds—a genuine Southern celebrity who goes under the handle of Charlie Justice—known to all the world as Choo Choo.”

Reporting on the game, the Greensboro Daily News noted that many fans carried portable radios in order to listen to the World Series game between the Yankees and the Dodgers.

South Carolina surprised the shirt-sleeved crowd by holding the heavily-favored Tar Heels to a 7-7 halftime tie, but in the second half it was all Charlie Justice and Art Weiner. Early in the second half, with the ball at the SC 47, Justice hit Weiner on a 24-yard pass. A drive later it was Justice to Weiner again, this time for 40 yards. The Heels rolled to a final score of 28 to 13.

Rex Enright of University of South Carolina and Carl Snavely of the University of North Carolina meet after UNC's 28-13 victory on October 8, 1949 at Columbia, S.C.

CAROLINA COACHES CONFER —Head coaches Rex Enright of the University of South Carolina and Carl Snavely of the University of North Carolina meet after UNC’s 28-13 victory on October 8, 1949 at Columbia, S.C.

Following the game in an interview with Al Thomy of the Greensboro Daily News, Enright said, “Just when we stopped their running, they would pass. And if we dared concentrate on their aerial game, they would come back on the ground. . . Justice and Weiner form a great offensive combination. They are just like the Yankees.” (By the way, the New York Yankees won that World Series game over the Brooklyn Dodgers also played on October 8th by a score of 6 to 4).

Enright was not questioned about an incident that occurred in the first quarter during a UNC drive, when a close fourth down play was ruled a Tar Heel first down. Following the ruling, during a UNC time out, Enright called Justice over to the sideline and asked the Tar Heel captain to ask for a measurement, which he did and the measurement proved that referee J.D. Rogers, Jr. had made the correct call.

About two months after the game, Charlie Justice was selected for the Collier’s All America team, and the magazine published a Hugh Morton photograph of Justice from the USC game for its December 10, 1949 issue.  In 1997, that same Morton image would be placed on display in the Charlie Justice Hall of Honor on the first floor of the Kenan Football Center on the UNC campus.

UNC-Chapel Hill versus University of South Carolina football game in Carolina Stadium, Columbia, SC. Player wearing uniform #25 is UNC's Irv Holdash.

UNC-Chapel Hill versus University of South Carolina football game in Carolina Stadium, Columbia, SC.  Player wearing uniform #25 is UNC’s Irv Holdash.

A little over a year after that ’49 game, Enright’s and Snavely’s teams met again in Columbia’s Carolina Stadium.  On November 18, 1950, 25,000 fans, including South Carolina’s Governor Strom Thurmond and photographer Hugh Morton, saw the Tar Heels fall behind by a 7 to 0 score early in the first quarter, but saw them come back with two scores in the second on a combination of A-formation and single wing plays.  As it turned out, the halftime score of 14 to 7 was also the final score.

South Carolina governor Strom Thurmond and wife Jean at the November 18, 1950 UNC vs. USC football game.

South Carolina governor Strom Thurmond and wife Jean at the November 18, 1950 UNC vs. USC football game at Columbia, S.C.

UNC put up another convincing win against USC when the teams met in Kenan Stadium on October 13, 1951. A homecoming crowd of 34,000 cheered the Tar Heels to a 21 to 6 victory with Larry Parker, Billy Williams, and Bud Wallace leading the Tar Heel attack. On October 14th, readers of the Wilmington Morning Star were treated to two Hugh Morton action photographs from that twenty seventh battle of the Carolinas.

Between 1951 and 1963 the teams met twelve times with UNC winning nine and USC winning three. Then starting in 1967 North Carolina suffered five straight losses before winning three, in ’77, ’78, and ’79.

The Tar Heels managed to win only two times during the 1980s and 1990s: 1983 and 1991.  The most recent game played in Kenan Stadium was on October 13, 2007, when Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks survived a furious UNC fourth quarter to win 21 to 15.

Overall North Carolina has won in the series thirty-four times while South Carolina has won seventeen, and there have been four ties.  The series renewal in 2013 will pit the number 6th ranked Gamecocks against the 24th ranked Tar Heels, but the Tar Heels just might have one thing in their favor. The August 19th issue of Sports Illustrated has a regional cover featuring South Carolina.  Ever heard of the “Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx?”

Carl Suntheimer is stretched out in front of the bench

The Charlotte News published three Morton photographs the Monday after the 1941 UNC loss at South Carolina, including this uncredited sideline candid with the caption “BEATEN AND DISPIRITED the Tar Heels couldn’t raise a grin Saturday afternoon as their ball club went down before South Carolina’s powerful Gamecocks. Co-captain Carl Suntheimer is stretched out in front of the bench with the dipper; Corn, Webb, Hussey and Gordon are on the bench (left to right). Photograph cropped, as published, from a wider view.  The 1942 Yackety Yack also published this photograph, with a wider crop, in a two-page spread called “It’s All Part of the Game.”

The Doors Shall Remain Open

In 1962, when Charlotte businessman Jack Wood and attorney Lloyd Caudle followed up with the idea for a North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, they put together a distinguished board of directors which included Hugh Morton.  Fifty-one years later on May 2, 2013, Morton will come full-circle when he will be inducted into that select group of North Carolina sports legends.  In today’s post, Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard celebrates his friend’s call to the Hall.

Hugh Morton and UNC mascotOn October 12, 2009, Asheville’s Citizen-Times columnist Keith Jarrett wrote about his first reaction to that year’s North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame ballot and its several western North Carolina candidates. After listing a half-dozen or so athletes, he said:

Another local nominee is included in the category of contributor, and in the spirit of full disclosure my vote is both a personal and professional choice.

Hugh Morton was a friend, and just about everyone who ever met this warm, caring man could say the same.  His fame came from his work at converting Grandfather Mountain into a High Country and NC treasure and his lifelong efforts as a conservationist.

But Hugh was also a great photographer, and for decades he would climb into his car and make the drive from his home in Linville to Chapel Hill and capture his beloved Tar Heels on film. . . .

His nature and animal photos were also brilliant, but his collection of work in sports photography is a catalog of the history of the ACC, and especially North Carolina.

If he is not a Hall of Famer, they should close the doors.

Hugh Morton mentored several generations of sports photographers and as part of that mentoring process he strongly advocated good sportsmanship within the Atlantic Coast Conference.  He always said “pull for your team, not against your opponent.”  He also sponsored “family outings” at Grandfather Mountain for conference schools for over 45 years.

So, almost four years after Jarrett wrote his column, North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame fans can breathe easier.  The doors will remain open . . . Hugh Morton will take his rightful place in the hall on Thursday night, May 2, 2013 at Raleigh’s Convention Center as part of the organization’s fiftieth induction ceremony.  Hugh’s grandson Jack Morton will represent the Morton family.  [Editor's note: here's an article, "My Grandfather and his Camera" written by Jack Morton in 2003 that recalls the day depicted in the photograph below—" . . . it was the first time that I had ever taken photos alongside him."]

Hugh Morton and grandson Jack Morton

Photographer Hugh Morton (right) with grandson Jack Morton (also a photographer) on sidelines during the UNC-Chapel Hill versus Duke University football game in Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, N. C., November 23, 1996.

Also as part of the class of 2013 is longtime Morton friend, the late Bob Quincy.  World War II bomber pilot and sports writer for both The Charlotte News and The Charlotte Observer, Quincy also spent four years as sports information director at UNC.  His books Choo Choo: The Charlie Justice Story (1958) and They Made the Bell Tower Chime (1973) are filled with Hugh Morton images.

Bob Quincy, Julian Scheer, and Charlie Justice with copy of CHOO CHOO: THE CHARLIE JUSTICE STORY, circa September 1958.

Bob Quincy, Julian Scheer, and Charlie Justice with copy of CHOO CHOO: THE CHARLIE JUSTICE STORY, circa September 1958.

On Thursday evening, Hugh and Bob will join their dear friends Choo Choo, Bones, and Peahead, . . . Francis, Arnie, Dale, and Jake along with 291 other sports legends in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

Another view of ’82

Wednesday afternoon was one of those times, like so many others in this line of work, where what you end up working on isn’t even on your radar when you step off the bus and head to the office.  Here’s what happened . . . .

Around 2:30 a new staff member in the the library’s Digital Production Center received a phone call from Yahoo! Sports requesting Hugh Morton photographs.  He asked me who should take the call, and I recommended he transfer the call to Keith Longiotti in our Research and Instructional Services Department.  Keith handles most of the image requests for the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives.

Shortly after the call I saw an email that I had received before the phone call, but hadn’t seen because I had been away from my desk.  The email was from an associate producer at Yahoo! Sports, and had its beginnings on Tuesday with a referral from The Daily Tar Heel to the journalism school’s librarian Stephanie Brown.

Yahoo! Sports has been producing a series called “Memorable Moments: March Madness.”  Their last episode was to feature the 1982 NCAA men’s basketball championship game between UNC and Georgetown.  They requested photographs or footage from the game, mentioning that they had seen some Hugh Morton photographs in the online collection of Morton images, but nothing from the closing moments of the game.  The producer wrote,

I’m looking for any photos AFTER Michael Jordan’s go-ahead jumper with :17 left in the game.  Specifically Georgetown’s Fred Brown throwing the ball away to James Worthy during the subsequent play.  Anything of Worthy and/or Brown from the final moments (before the steal, during the steal, after the steal, huddles, shooting free throws, etc.) would be outstanding.

Stephanie replied that the Park Library did not hold such materials, and that she should talk to me about the Hugh Morton collection.  I wrote the associate producer immediately after I finished reading her email, telling her that I had read her email shortly after the telephone call.

If you are a regular reader of A View to Hugh, then you know only 8,000 of the 250,000 items in the Morton collection are online.  I told the associate producer that I would look in the remainder of the collection to see if I could locate any images that were not online.  The catch?  They needed images that day, or early Thursday at the latest.  (Luckily their offices are on the west coast so that gave me an additional three hours to work on the request.)  They had seen Morton’s photograph of the team huddle shown above, but not in the online collection.  Did we have it?  Did we have anything else?

Given their tight deadline and the proximity to closing time, we could have settled for the images they already seen and requested.  Keith sent them scans of the images they’d seen so they could get started.  I couldn’t fathom, however, that Hugh Morton would not have photographed the pivotal closing moments unless he had been on the opposite end of the court.  That, coupled with an opportunity to give the Morton collection some national or even international exposure was too good to pass up.  I jumped on it.

First I checked for scans saved on our image server, but not used in the online collection.  (Yes, there are thousands of them!)  To do that, I had to review all the prints, negatives, and slides from the games, because the scan’s file names are written on the storage enclosures.  The huddle scene above was previously scanned, but not included online.

But look at what else I found that wasn’t scanned:

P081_1982NCCAfinal_Worthy 01

After watching the closing moments of the game on YouTube, I was convinced the scene above was James Worthy driving the basketball down court after stealing Fred Brown’s errant pass.  The steal and drive happened right in front of Morton.  He snapped the camera shutter just a moment before Worthy was intentionally fouled by Georgetown’s Eric Smith (#32).  Eric “Sleepy” Floyd (#21) is on the left.  Both Floyd and Worthy are from Gastonia, North Carolina and were good friends.  The turnover happened so unexpectedly on the other end of the court, and so quickly that it may have caught Morton off guard because Worthy is out of focus.  The result, however, means that Morton captured the dismay on Floyd’s face, and the expressions on the bench and cheerleaders are more visible.

(By the way, if you watch the CBS broadcast, you can see Hugh Morton pop into the frame about 25 seconds after the end of the game.  This may be when Dean Smith told Morton, “Stick with me.”)

Below, Morton photographed Worthy taking one of his free throws with only two seconds remaining on the clock.

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A staff member of the Digital Production Center helped me make the scans of the two 35mm slides.  (I couldn’t do it because they just starting using new software.)  We had the slides finished before 6:00.  I continued to dig Thursday morning, taking advantage of the time zones difference, but didn’t find additional images that fit the hole they needed to fill.  We delivered the scans by their deadline, and Yahoo! Sports was thrilled.

We received the link to the story, “Michael Jordan’s gutsy shot leads to North Carolina title” this morning.  The downside of our efforts is that Yahoo! Sports doesn’t credit their sources after the episodes in “Memorable Moments: March Madness,” so you won’t see Morton or the photographic archives credited.  The upside is that seven Hugh Morton photographs appear in the episode (one of Worthy during the East Regional final game against Villanova in Raleigh, and six from the championship game), and the library did receive a respectable commercial use fee to help support the work that we do with the collections.  The team huddle photograph also opens a one-minute piece, “Memorable Moments: The huddle before Michael Jordan’s shot.”  Another of Morton’s images appears in a second short, “Memorable Moments: James Worthy remembers UNC vs. Georgetown.”

A remaining mystery emerged from this reference request.  I didn’t find a photograph of Michael Jordon’s game winning shot, which occurred near the very spot of the Worthy photograph above.  Did Morton photograph that memorable moment, too?  If so, I didn’t find it.  Yet.

Player, Preacher, Coach, and Commentator

UNC’s men basketball team bowed out of the NCAA tournament over the weekend, but the UNC women’s team continues on its quest for a national championship this evening.  With basketball season still in high gear, Hugh Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard looks back at a North Carolina basketball legend on the anniversary of UNC’s second place finish in the 1946 NCAA championship game played on March 26, 1946.

Bones McKinney

Wake Forest men’s basketball Head Coach Bones McKinney on bench/sidelines. Possibly during a UNC-Chapel Hill versus Wake Forest University basketball game.

“I don’t remember exactly when everyone started calling me Bones, but with a name like Horace Albert, the sooner the better, right?”

—Bones McKinney from Bones: Honk Your Horn if You Love Basketball (1988)

His resume is like no other.  It goes something like this:

  • High School All-Star Basketball at Durham High
  • Varsity basketball at North Carolina State
  • United States Army, Fort Bragg (basketball coach and player)
  • Varsity basketball at University of North Carolina
  • Basketball Association of America, Washington Capitols
  • National Basketball Association, Boston Celtics
  • Ordained Baptist minister
  • Head coach, Wake Forest
  • Head coach, American Basketball Association, Carolina Cougars
  • TV commentator and analyst, Raycom
  • Newspaper columnist
  • Author
  • Humorist and motivational after-dinner speaker

Folks born on New Year’s Day are special people.

For Horace Albert (Bones) McKinney, born in Lowlands, North Carolina on January 1, 1919, that specialty was his love for the game of basketball.  When he was five years old, the McKinney family moved to Durham and that’s where young Horace began playing his favorite game—starting at Watts Street Grammar School, then to Central Junior High, the YMCA, and finally to Durham High where, under Head Coach Paul Sykes, he led the team to two South Atlantic Prep Tournaments, two Duke-Durham Tournaments, three state championships, and the Interscholastic Basketball Tournament in Glens Falls, New York . . . all the while racking up sixty-nine straight wins.

McKinney graduated a little late from Durham High in the spring of 1940, then headed over to Raleigh for a college career at North Carolina State College (now North Carolina State).  A year of freshman ball was followed by a sophomore year when he led the Southern Conference in scoring with 200 points and was an all conference selection. On Christmas Day, 1941, Bones McKinney married the love of his life, Edna Ruth Stell.

UNC 1946 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship runners-up

Group portrait of UNC-Chapel Hill men’s basketball team after their loss to Oklahoma A&M in the 1946 NCAA championship at Madison Square Garden, New York, NY. Among those pictured are head coach Ben Carnevale (back row, second from left) and Horace “Bones” McKinney (back row, second from right).

A week after the 1942 season ended, on April 2, 1942, he joined the Army.  At Fort Bragg, Bones played, coached, and led the team to wins in the Southeastern Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Tournament in Savannah and the Southern AAU in Raleigh.  While at Fort Bragg, he became good friends with Ben Carnevale the head coach at UNC and on January 9, 1945, Bones McKinney became a Tar Heel—but the UNC basketball team was called the White Phantoms in those days. The highlight of the 1946 season, which was his only season at UNC, was a NCAA national championship game against Oklahoma A&M at Madison Square Garden.  The 43–40 loss was difficult for Bones as evidenced by Hugh Morton’s photograph of the award ceremony following the game.

1946 UNC coach Ben Carnevale receiving runner-up trophy

“In 1946, before the NCAA national championship became known as the Final Four, UNC lost in the championship game, 43 to 40 to Oklahoma A&M. The game was played in the old Madison Square Garden before 18,479 spectators. UNC head basketball coach and Navy lieutenant Ben Carnevale (shaking hands), who had responsibilities as the Navy Pre-Flight School at Chapel Hill as well, accepted the runner-up trophy. Carolina’s Horace ‘Bones’ McKinney (far left) was not pleased at being runner up.” Presenting the award is Harold G. Olsen, who was serving his final year as the NCAA basketball tournament chairman. (Identification obtained from book ON TOBACCO ROAD.)

By the end of the ‘46 season, the McKinney family had grown to three and Bones realized that he needed a paying job to support the family, so he left UNC and went to work for Hanes Hosiery.  It was while there that an unbelievable phone call came.  On the other end of the line was Red Auerbach, who was going to form the “Basketball Association of America”—and he wanted Bones to play for him.  Just when it looked like basketball was over for Bones McKinney, along came an opportunity to play for pay: $6,750 for a season with a $500 advance.  He would play for the Washington Capitols for five seasons, making all pro and led the team to the Eastern Division championship his first season, 1946-47. He led the team into the playoffs each year from 1946 through 1950.

On January 9, 1951 the Washington Capitols folded, and McKinney was sent to the Boston Celtics as a player-coach.  While there he made some NBA history.  He recruited and signed Earl Lloyd, the first African American player in the NBA.  Following the ’52 season, McKinney left pro basketball and enrolled in the Southeastern Theological Seminary at Wake Forest.  While in class on November 8, 1952, Wake Forest Head Basketball Coach Murray Greason walked in and asked Dr. Bill Strickland if he could speak with student McKinney.  Greason needed an assistant coach and offered Bones the job, a job that would last until March 26, 1957 when he took over the head coaching position at Wake.

In February of 1960, a writer for the magazine Life came to Winston-Salem to do a McKinney feature story.  It wasn’t the first time he had made the big time.  There is an action shot by Hugh Morton contemporary Hy Peskin on the front cover of Collier’s dated January 15, 1949.  Life published another article, titled “Basketball’s Incredible Mr. Bones” in its February 22, 1960 issue, which featured the following:

People go to Wake Forest basketball games to see a winning team perform.  For the same price, they get Bones McKinney, the coach with his own private volcano.  Once the game starts, the bench can’t hold him.  The climactic moment arrives when Mr. Bones erupts dramatically from the sideline, looking like a dead ringer for Ichabod Crane.

In 1961 and 1962, McKinney led the Deacons to Atlantic Coast Conference championships, with the ’62 team playing in the NCAA Final Four.  Following the ’64-’65 season, Wake Forest made a coaching change and Bones McKinney took a job with the North Carolina Board of Corrections, but soon after the ’65-’66 basketball season started, he got a call from ACC TV producer Castleman D. Chesley.  It seems that Bones’ good friend Charlie Harville had recommended him as a possible broadcaster with the ACC network.  Bones was eager to get back into basketball, so on January 8, 1966 at the UNC vs. Duke game in Chapel Hill, Bones McKinney became a TV basketball commentator and analyst, working with play-by-play man Jim Thacker, and stat man Charlie Harville.  At first, McKinney didn’t think he was very good as a broadcaster, but when he was invited back, he figured he must be OK.

Then in early 1969 . . . another phone call and another basketball opportunity.  On January 2, 1969, Southern Sports Corporation purchased the Houston Mavericks, a team in the American Basketball Association.  President Jim Gardner was planning to move the team to North Carolina and he wanted Bones as his head coach.  Gardner and McKinney struck a deal and Bones McKinney became to first head coach of the newly formed Carolina Cougars, leading them that year to the ABA playoffs.

One of my favorite Bones McKinney stories came during that ’69-‘70 season. During a hotly contested game, Bones yelled out at an official following a questionable call.

“Hey, you’re either blind or you’re a crook.”
“And you’re out of the game,” yelled back the ref.
“Why?” asked Bones defiantly.
“Because you called me a crook,” replied the official.
“Did not,” yelled Bones, looking back over his shoulder as he departed, “I gave you a choice.”

While still coaching the Carolina Cougars, McKinney was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame with the Class of 1970.

Bones McKinney, Billy Packer, and Jim Thacker, with Castleman Chesley at UNC-Chapel Hill versus Marquette basketball game, 1977 NCAA

Seated are (L to R) Bones McKinney, Billy Packer, and Jim Thacker, with Castleman Chesley (standing) behind the scenes at UNC-Chapel Hill versus Marquette basketball NCAA finals in Atlanta, Georgia.

The 4th Annual ABA All-Star Game was played in the Greensboro Coliseum on January 23, 1971 and CBS-TV carried the game nationwide, with play-by-play by Don Criqui and Pat Summerall and color commentary by Bones McKinney.

On November 18, 1979 during halftime of the Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys game in RFK Stadium, McKinney was inducted into the Washington Hall of Stars.  In 1985 his longtime friend Charlie Justice joined him in the DC Hall.  McKinney continued to coach all-star games, and was in high demand as an after-dinner speaker during the 1980s and early ‘90s.

When the Greensboro News and Record arrived on Saturday morning May 17, 1997, the front page headline read, “Legendary Wake Coach Dies at 78.”  Staff writer Jim Schlosser related the story of McKinney’s death at 5:05 PM on Friday, May 16th at Wake Medical Rehab Center following a stroke two weeks earlier.  On Sunday, I went out to WFMY-TV and put together a video piece for Monday’s “Good Morning Show.”  As I was putting the piece together, I kept thinking about a Bones McKinney quote that I had read years before in his 1988 book.  The quote was part of the short section about his broadcasting career.  It went like this: “I soon found out that if your director ain’t no good, you ain’t no good.”  He went on to talk about the magnificent Raycom directors, Norman Prevatte from WBTV in Charlotte, John Young from WUNC-TV, and Frank Slingland from WRC-TV in Washington, DC.

During my time in broadcasting, I never had the honor of directing a Bones McKinney game or a Bones McKinney broadcast.  However, I worked several Carolina Cougar games in 1972 after Bones had moved on.  But in 1969, WFMY-TV produced the Carolina Cougar coach’s show.  It was called, of course, “The Bones McKinney Show.”  Veteran WFMY Producer/Director George Leh was director and Woody Durham was producer along with Bones. The show was usually taped on Thursday afternoons for weekend playback.  On this particular Thursday, Leh was not available to direct so production manager Jack Forehand asked me to direct the show. For twenty-eight minutes and thirty seconds on Thursday afternoon, March 5, 1969, I knew I was part of something very special.

Back at the Top . . . Back on the Bayou

UNC basketball team huddles during 1993 NCAA final

UNC basketball team in huddle during the North Carolina versus Michigan basketball game at 1993 NCAA finals in New Orleans.

It’s that time of year again when hundreds of thousands of college basketball fans huddle secretively with their notes on “bracketology.”  The NCAA basketball championship tournaments broke onto the stage this week and, once again, the UNC men’s and women’s teams find themselves in the mix.  Always hard-earned, NCAA tournament appearances are nonetheless commonplace for UNC’s basketball teams.

Readers of A View to Hugh know that Hugh Morton had a great love for UNC men’s basketball, photographing games regularly as far back as his days as a student in the late 1930s and early 1940s.  As the basketball teams head into their championship runs, Morton collection volunteer Jack Hilliard takes a look back at the men Tar Heels’ 1993 trip to “The Final Four” twenty years ago, when Carolina won its fourth national championship under legendary head coach Dean Smith.

It was one year ago today that library staff members learned of the untimely passing of our colleague, Bill Richards. 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 dedicated to Bill who, like Hugh Morton, was an avid UNC basketball fan.

UNC student fans during the 1993 NCAA championship

UNC student fans during the 1993 NCAA championship at New Orleans, Louisiana.

Eleven seasons had come and gone since Dean Smith’s basketball Tar Heels had won the 1982 NCAA championship in the Louisiana Superdome.  But in early April 1993 his team was poised and ready for another run at the big game in “The Big Easy.”

Most UNC fans agree that Smith’s 1992-93 team was one of his best. When all was said and done, their record was 34–4, with 26 wins in the regular season and 8 wins in the post season.  The one post season loss came in the ACC Tournament final, a two-pointer to Georgia Tech.  Following that disappointment, it was on to NCAA March Madness and a number one seed in the East, starting in Winston-Salem.  A twenty-point win over East Carolina and a forty-five-point win against Rhode Island put the Heels in the “Sweet 16” at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.  Then came a six-point win over Arkansas and a seven-point overtime victory versus Cincinnati . . . and it was on to the Crescent City and another Final-Four for Coach Smith (his ninth).

The 1993 Final Four was unique.  Three number one seeds and one number two seed would be playing for the championship: North Carolina, Michigan, and Kentucky along with number two seed Kansas.  The first national semi-final on Saturday, April 3rd would match Dean Smith’s UNC Tar Heels and Roy Williams’ Kansas Jayhawks.  Needless to say, there was plenty of ink and airtime about this rivalry.  Two years earlier, Kansas had beaten Carolina in the national semi-final 79 to 73.  Dean Smith played at Kansas in the early 1950s.  Roy Williams played and coached at Carolina in ‘70s and ‘80s, and one of Williams’ assistants was Matt Doherty who played for Smith during the 1982 NCAA championship season.  If the truth be known, Smith and Williams probably would rather be playing someone else in the semi-final game but they didn’t set the brackets.

Row Williams, Dean Smith, and Bill Guthridge

Row Williams, Dean Smith, and Bill Guthridge prior to the 1993 NCAA tournament semifinal in New Orleans, Louisiana. Cropped by the editor; the full-frame image (click to see photograph without cropping) includes Kansas assistant coach and former UNC player Matt Doherty.  A slightly wider crop, also without Doherty, appears in the book Return to the Top: The Inside Story of Carolina’s 1993 NCAA Championship.

During the warm-up for the game, photographer Hugh Morton got a classic shot, one that he would include in all his future slides shows.  The image shows Smith, Williams, Doherty, and then UNC assistant Bill Guthridge, current and future Carolina coaches from 1961 to the present.

A crowd of 64,151 watched as Kansas took an early 3–2 lead, but Brian Reese hit a driving layup to put Carolina up by a score of 4–3. The Heels would retain a lead the rest of the way.  Kansas kept it close; Carolina led by only four at halftime, 40–36.  In the second half when George Lynch hit a layup at the 17:01 mark, the Tar Heel lead was seven, 48 to 41; but one minute later, Kansas had cut that lead to two at 48 to 46.

Donald Williams’ twenty-one foot three ball made the score 63–55 with 9:35 to play.  But five minutes later, Carolina’s lead was once again down to four, 67–63 and Coach Smith called a time-out to change his lineup.  In the final 2:36, Donald Williams scored seven points as the Heels finally pulled away for a 78–68 win.  Eric Montross and Donald Williams accounted for forty-eight Carolina points.

Coach Williams, in his post-game news conference, said, “I’ll be pulling like the dickens for Carolina Monday night.”

Later that day, Michigan defeated Kentucky to set up a UNC vs. Michigan national final.  It would be only the second time two number one seeds had met for the championship.  (The other time was Carolina and Georgetown in 1982).

Once again there was lots of media coverage, focusing on a Rainbow Classic game between Michigan and Carolina, which Michigan wound up as the 79–78 winner back on December 29, 1992.

Monday, April 5th was a long day for me.  I did my usual morning show shift at WFMY-TV, and then returned in the evening for a “NCAA Countdown” special program just before CBS’ live coverage of the game.  By the time I got home, the game was well underway and Carolina trailed 23–13.  But three-and-a-half minutes later, the Tar Heels had tied the score at 25.  George Lynch, Eric Montross, and Derrick Phelps kept Carolina in front going into the halftime break.

Halfway through the second half, the Wolverines caught the Heels, tying the score at 56.  Chris Webber’s alley-oop at the 8:35 mark gave Michigan a 60–58 lead.  Five minutes later, Derrick Phelps’ fast break layup put Carolina back on top 68–67.  An Eric Montross dunk at the 1:03 mark pushed the UNC lead to 72-67.  Then Ray Jackson’s 18-foot jumper brought Michigan within three at 72–69.  Following a Michigan timeout, Chris Webber’s follow up shot made the score 72–71.  Then with twenty seconds remaining in the game Michigan’s Rob Pelinka fouled Carolina’s Pat Sullivan, who hit one of two foul shots.  Chris Webber got the rebound . . . seemed to travel, then took the ball the length of the court into the corner in front of his bench.  At this point, Carolina had fouls to give, so Lynch and Phelps set up a vicious trap.  Webber picked up his dribble.  With nowhere to go, only eleven seconds left in the game, and the Michigan coaches shouting “NO,” Webber called a timeout—a timeout he didn’t have.  Donald Williams calmly stepped to the line and hit the two technical foul shots, raising the score to 75–71.  Williams would hit two more foul shots following a Ray Jackson miscue, thus giving Dean Smith his 774th win and his 2nd NCAA Championship.  Final score:  Carolina 77, Michigan 71.

Victorious UNC men's basketball team after the 1993 NCAA championship game.

Victorious UNC men’s basketball team after the 1993 NCAA championship game.

As the CBS cameras focused on the team celebration, a celebration of another kind began back in rainy Chapel Hill as 25,000 fans stormed Franklin Street—light blue paint in hand. As the bell from University Methodist Church rang out, a Tar Heel fan was heard to say:
“Dick Vitale, you picked the wrong winner tonight, baby.”  The headline in Tuesday’s Gastonia Gazette read: DEJA BLUE.

About 3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 6, 1993, a crowd started gathering in the Smith Center on the UNC campus. The crowd would eventually grow to be about 20,000 strong by the time the team bus pulled into the parking lot at 4:47.  As the Marching Tar Heels played the fight song, Pat Sullivan and Senior Matt Wenstrom, with NCAA trophy in hand, led the victorious Tar Heels into the arena.  Each team member was introduced by the “Voice of the Tar Heels” Woody Durham, and each spoke briefly.  Said Eric Montross:  “It just doesn’t get any better than this.”

Missing from the festivities was the man who had orchestrated the “Season of Dreams.”  Head coach Dean Smith wanted the celebration to be about his players, so he had scheduled a recruiting trip to Pennsylvania for Tuesday, April 6, 1993.

For those wanting to read more about UNC’s 1992-1993 season, see the book Return to the Top: The Inside Story of Carolina’s 1993 NCAA Championship.  The book contains an ample serving of Hugh Morton photographs made throughout that season.  You may see additional images of the UNC versus Kansas game and the 1993 championship game versus Michigan as part of the more than 8,000 Hugh Morton photographs online (A mere sampling of the 250,00 images in the entire collection!)

Another birthday for Dean Smith

Dan Smith cutting net after winning 1993 NCAA championship

UNC men’s basketball team Head Coach Dean Smith cutting down net at UNC vs. Michigan NCAA championship win at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, 5 April 1993.

We’re celebrating another birthday here at A View to Hugh: today is legendary UNC basketball coach Dean Smith’s 82nd.

This morning’s Daily Tar Heel features a front-page story using two Hugh Morton photographs (unfortunately Morton is not credited): the one above following the 1993 NCAA championship nearly twenty years ago, and the one below after winning the 1967 ACC championship game.  As of 10:15 a.m., there’s no online version of the story, but there is an online readable version of the print edition.

UNC 1967 ACC Tournament champions

UNC-Chapel Hill men’s basketball team celebrating their win over Duke University after the 1967 ACC tournament championship game played in Greensboro, NC. Among those pictured are Head Coach Dean Smith (front row, third from left) and ACC tournament MVP Larry Miller (front row, fourth from left).

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.