Akula Wolf has been kind enough to grant me some space on BTP. Consider the following rambles as an introduction.
Every kid seems to share the annoying habit of leaping up to try to touch...well, whatever is up there. I remember the outstretched hands of grownups, shower curtain rods, exit signs, and ceiling fans all being fair game. I must have posterized imaginary Tarheels on the top of door frames a million times, "throwing down" whatever ball was handy on the white, fingerprinted molding that served as a rim. But the satisfying scrape of popcorn ceiling eluded my finger tips until my ninth birthday.
My first basketball memory is a bitter one. It was 1982. Whoever was playing Carolina was my favorite team for two hours, so on the night of the national championship game I was the world's biggest fan of Patrick Ewing and the Georgetown Hoyas. To this point in my sheltered existence, I had never had a hint of doubt that world was a right and just place, but that all changed when Fred Brown inexplicably tossed a pass to James Worthy.After Carolina's gift-wrapped national title, I took the nuclear war drills at elementary school more seriously. If Carolina can win a national championship, then surely the Soviet Union can win the Cold War, I thought as I scrunched under my desk in the fetal position, waiting for the all clear from my teacher.
To make matters worse, my dad had matriculated at UNC and, along with everyone else in my immediate and extended family, was a dyed-in-the-wool Sheep fan. Before I could beat a hasty retreat to my room, the old man may have detected a tear on that night in '82 when my innocence died, and he let me know about it at every opportunity. A game would come on and dad says: "I'll let you watch with me, but you have to promise not to cry when Carolina wins." Neighbor kid comes over to play: "Just don't watch sports with him; he cries every time Carolina wins." And so on.
Thankfully, I only had to wait one year for retribution. Even if you're much younger than me, you know all about 1983. Like you, I can close my eyes and see Lo Charles gently, almost apologetically dunking Dereck Whittenburg's "pass" as time expires; I can see Coach V, who I worshipped, looking for someone to hug. Maybe I was imagining leaping into V's outstretched arms, or maybe it was just pure, unadulterated, unfiltered ampness, but on April 4th, 1983, my ninth birthday, I jumped so high that my fingers scraped ceiling for the first time.
And then I learned about tears of joy. And I did not care who saw.
Occasionally when I indulge myself in the comments from the unwashed masses on Pack-related message boards (not this site, obviously), I take offense when some whippersnapper waxes on about being "tired of hearing about '83." My first instinct is to get all internet toughguy on him and invite him out to the virtual parking lot after school. But he's right. It was DEAR GOD I'M OLD 29 YEARS AGO. The passing of time does not tarnish the Cardiac Pack's run, but it is time to make new championship memories (and maybe even shed a tear or two of joy).
Since the days of V, there has been no better time to be a Pack fan than right now. Carlos Rodon may lead the Pack to unprecedented heights on the diamond. Football's won 5 in a row over the whine and cheese cheaters, and dry though he may be, TOB has done it with class. And, best of all, fresh off a run to the sweet 16, the men's basketball team is a preseason consensus top 10 pick. I believe the program is poised to stand toe-to-toe with the Tarheels for a long time to come (if an aging and increasingly insane Ol' Roy can keep up). I look forward to having this outlet to revel in Pack successes...
OK. Spit out the happy pill, Nancy. Getting dangerously close to a jinxing level of optimism here.
Let me try again: I look forward to having this space as an outlet to write about Pack-related things that could potentially suck less than Pack-related things have sucked previously, and either way there will be beer and the beer will taste good.
Thanks in advance for your indulgence.