Monday, March 26, 2007

Shooting in the dark

No, this is not a story of crime in my neighborhood. Rather, it describes what I was doing at 8 pm tonight after UNC's loss to Georgetown. I have a tradition of shooting baskets each year after the Heels lose their last game of the season, no matter what time it is. Sometimes I am shooting at 11 at night, others in the afternoon. But most seasons, I end it on a court somewhere. So tonight, after listening to Roy William's postgame interviews, I went to a court in another part of town and shot hoops for a few minutes, making some of the baskets that the Heels just couldn't seem to get to fall this evening.

The first time I did this was in 1984. I was eight years old, and the Tar Heels had just lost to Indiana. There was no reason that this Indiana team should have beaten my Heels that year, what with Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins on the team. I had been allowed to stay up to watch the game, and when it was over, my dad suggested we go shoot some baskets in the driveway. When you're 8 years old and already up way past your bedtime, the chance to play 'ball with your dad at night was a rare treat. So we went out and shot, the floodlight casting long shadows. As far as I can remember, every year since then, that's how my UNC basketball seasons have ended (except for the years when I saw their Final Four losses in person).

I remember getting yelled at by an RA at Carolina in 1995 when the Heels lost to Arkansas in the Final Four because we were shooting on the Avery Dorm court after quiet hours (who was studying at 11:00 pm on a Saturday, especially with football players carousing in the balcony, apparently {and inconceivably} celebrating the loss?). I remember shooting in the dark in 2004, having given up TV for lent and thus relegating myself to trying to not listen to the Heels game against Texas (I dunno, I figured that listening to them was cheating or something), and hearing Rashad McCants' tying three fall short, went straight to dimly lit courts of Lake Daniel Park.

Tonight, more than any other night that I can remember, I was shooting in a fog. The way that Carolina lost, letting a lead slip away bit by maddening bit over the course of 7 minutes, letting a game that we had led pretty much from the start slip away because we could not get the ball in the goal, it just stunned me. I couldn't talk. I wasn't angry. I didn't want to throw anything. It just didn't seem real. Still doesn't.

Now there's 8 long months until the 2007-08 season starts, and I'm uncertain as to which players will still be on the team then. Maybe it's time to change my homepage from to I just don't have the heart to do it yet.


Chris said...

I thought about hitting a TV, and didn't.

I thought about crying, and didn't.

I thought about re-hashing the various injustices committed by the officials (Roy Hibbert fouled out 4 times), and didn't.

Instead I just sat on Franklin St. and watched everyone else walk by- their faces a mirror to my own. Sharing the grief took the edge off just a little bit, and when someone mentioned next year it was enough to make each of us smile just a little bit.

Rachel said...

i remember that sad night at Avery. And i remember the pound pound pound of the bball... and realizing it was you. didn't know that was a tradition for you... really cool, in a sad kind of way.