Memories of Jordan from 1982Geraldine Thigpen | ‘Carolina Mama’
My cousin worked at GE with James Jordan (Michael's dad). My brother, Julian Lewis, who lived in Kansas, gave us four tickets to the Final Four in New Orleans for Christmas in 1981. Of course, we didn't even know that Carolina was going to be playing at that time. I took my two sons. It was our first time on an airplane, so that was exciting.
We stayed with friends in New Orleans. It was unbelievable, a dream come true for us just to go. I always wanted to go to just an ACC game, then to go to the Final Four, when you're there the atmosphere is so strong.
At the end, I knew we had to win this game. I said, 'They've got to give it to Michael Jordan, he's going to do it for us.' When he did, that place exploded. Then what stands out is Fred Brown made the pass to James Worthy. It was exciting. I look at it today and I was a part of that history.
I've always liked Michael Jordan - he was a fine young man. James invited me to their house on Gordon Road. And Michael gave me an autographed picture of him and James Worthy. I have a picture of that last shot. These are memories that we've collected. Dean Smith | UNC coach at the time
Usually I don't take a timeout; with so much practice, we should know what we are going to do. I'm very slow to take a timeout late in the game. But (assistant coach) Eddie Fogler said, 'We may need a timeout. Jimmy doesn't know what we're running,' which he did. At the timeout, ... I said, 'I know they'll stay in a zone defense because I know coach (John) Thompson just loves James Worthy and Sam Perkins, so stay with our 2-game,' which is usually we have one post guy high, he goes low and we have another one come in behind him and usually we'd get that.
But I knew coach Thompson knew that too, because he was with us when we used to run that in the '76 Olympics. We thought they might jam. We were certainly looking for Worthy first and then Sam. And then I said if that's not open, it's bound to be open for Michael on the wing. I patted him on the tail and said, 'Knock it in.'
Jimmy (Black) took his time. I thought I made clear - get a good shot in 10 seconds, it wasn't quite as quick as I wanted. There was no rush.
I think he really did get some confidence from (making the game-winner), who wouldn't? He was confident and got better and better.
As much as has been said about Michael making the shot, it was his defense on the next play. We were in our scramble defense and if you look at the tape, Fred Brown starts to throw to the corner to Sleepy Floyd but Michael stepped into the passing lane and Brown knew that he would have to lob the ball to get it to the corner. He turned and threw the ball to James. Michael was graded our defensive winner in that game - we probably should have been publicizing that. Woody Durham | Voice of the Tar Heels
They came across the time line with 30 seconds, thought the players looked a little unsettled and Eddie Fogler said call timeout. (UNC coach) Roy (Williams) was asked about it last week. He even said when they came over he saw the look in their face, which worried him. He thought for the first time that Carolina might lose; they didn't look confident. Coach Smith was marvelous in the way he calmed them down. 'We are right where we want to be,' he said. 'We're going to determine the outcome of the game.' Roy had to turn his back to the huddle and look at the scoreboard and make sure it said 62-61. When the players left the huddle, Roy said then he thought that they were going to win. That's just the kind of confidence coach Smith gave his players.
Coach Smith knew (John Thompson) wasn't going to let Perkins or Worthy beat him. He was going to have some defense that wouldn't let that happen. He knew Michael was going to take the shot, slapped him on the rump. My problem in broadcasting the game came when Michael made the shot. I expected John Thompson to call the timeout. We were seated more to the Georgetown end of the floor, closer to their bench on the second row of the press seating.
I'm trying to get my thoughts together as to, 'What the hell am I gonna do if they make the last shot and Carolina loses again?' I'm trying to sort that out mentally and on the court not more than 30 feet away from us Fred Brown threw the ball to James Worthy. ... I look down to my left and Coach Smith is trying to settle everybody down on the bench. He realized that there is still going to be time left. Of course, James missed the free throws and Sleepy Floyd took a desperation shot at the end and Sam caught the ball and the celebration began. I was so relieved. Rich Chvotkin | Voice of the Hoyas
The first thing I remember about the shot, it was after Georgetown went up and North Carolina brought the ball down. I remember there was 32 seconds left on the clock, vividly. And I said we're going to have to put on our best defensive effort, and we went into a 1-3-1 zone.
I saw them rotate the ball around to the side where Jordan was, and I was literally a hand away from touching that ball. It was just the perfect rotation against the zone, Jordan had a clean look and hit it. That's basically what happened.
In that ball game you had Ewing, you had Worthy, you had Perkins, but I don't think anybody thought at that time that shot would lead Michael Jordan to be the great NBA player he was, maybe the greatest of all time.
He didn't have a dominating game. He played a very good ballgame, but that shot obviously made history for Carolina and for Michael Jordan.
I think (Fred Brown's pass) was just an unfortunate thing, and I always asked the question: What was James Worthy doing out on the perimeter? And what they said was North Carolina was in some kind of scramble, and obviously Worthy was so far out of place. If you look out on the floor, why was there a 6-9 guy out on the wing? It was one of those things where Freddy looked and thought it was a Georgetown player, because what's a Carolina player doing there? Fred Lynch | Laney basketball coach
I remember watching the game. The end was great; the whole game was exciting. We were all excited that he was there. It surprised me that he was the one that took the shot at the end of the game. I guess coach Smith knew something that we didn't know.
Everybody at Laney was talking about it the next day, just like everybody was all over North Carolina. It was such a big deal for us because he was one of ours. I was already a Carolina fan, but a lot of people became Carolina fans when Michael decided to go there.
I didn't see any difference in his game after that. He just kept doing what he had always done, throughout high school. I'm sure it was great for his confidence, but to me he was the same player. Once you make a shot that monumental, I guess the rest are no big deal.
John Thompson | Georgetown coach
He made it. That's what ... I recall. He made the ... shot. Well, I just think it was indicative of competition. Michael hit the shot, and I like Michael an awful lot now as a person and am proud of what he's accomplished.
I kid him every now and then that he wouldn't have been so open if we weren't so afraid of James inside. There might not have been any finals that had any more accumulation of stars than who were in that game. And the game was indicative of that because it was a helluva ballgame. Billy Packer | Color analyst for the game
I think of that game more about James Worthy and Patrick Ewing than I do Michael Jordan. What probably comes to my mind is about a year before that he'd broken the (scoring) record for the McDonald's All-American game but didn't get the MVP. His mom was all upset about that, and I calmed her down after the game that night and said, 'He's going to North Carolina, he's playing for a good coach. He'll do all right. Don't worry about him; it's not going to be the end of his career.'
So that night he hit the shot, and I see his mom and dad on the streets in New Orleans, and I was kidding her about it - I've often kidded her about it over the years - and I said, 'I told you that (MVP) wasn't going to be the highlight of his career.'
... The one thing that is a connector is that he's one of the greatest competitors in any sport, and his career has shown that he wanted to take that shot. The guys that make those shots don't happen by accident. They want the shot and they know they're going to make the shot. That was the first time we saw that.