Working for UNC basketball as a JV Manager is a volunteer job that has little glory to it and I could relate it to being a young player in Q school trying to make the PGA tour. By no means is the skill required similar however when Coach Smith was leading the Tar Heels over twenty young students signed up as JV managers hoping one day they would work with the varsity team. Working timeless hours along with taking a full load of classes there were many days where I question why in the heck am I doing this? On January 7, 1995 one moment definitely made all the hard work and time put into the program seem minimal when UNC defeated Maryland 100-90. It was not the win that I remember but the last two minutes behind the scenes that I will carry with me forever.
During the closing moments of a win the managers direct the jv managers what needs to be taken care of to close down the bench, but on this night I was asked to go over to one of the security members of the Smith Center. When I was called over they asked me if I knew how to work the TV in the players lounge beside the locker room. Who doesn’t know how to turn on a TV was what ran through my head, but keeping those words from pouring out I just told them yes I could go do that. I would later realize that the person who asked me to do this was giving me a one time opportunity.
I made my way in the tunnel and took the left to go down the hallway as I had many days before or after a practice. When I punched the code into the lounge I opened the door and sitting on the edge of one of the chairs was the greatest basketball player of all time and North Carolina legend Michael Jordan. As I was turning the game on for MJ, he asked me what the score was when I left the court. I was able to have a two minute conversation with Jordan and the guys he was hanging out with in the lounge. The reason he was in the lounge is because at the end of the game he made his way to the tunnel but people were gathering at the bottom of steps creating a security issue and Jordan volunteered to leave and watch the final moments on TV.
The moment I recall vividly was as I left the room to finish my duties as a JV manager Jordan in a polite gesture hit me across the back and said thanks buddy. When palm hit the left side of my back his fingers landed on the other side of me where I realized how huge his hands actually are. No wonder he can fake a shot with one hand palming the ball I thought to myself. When I returned to my dorm and ordering a small pizza from Gumby’s, which was normal following a late game, I called everyone I knew to share my MJ moment. I was able to interact with Jordan on a few more occasions but none are as memorable as the night North Carolina defeated the Turtles.