Even though we were deep in Thanksgiving lethargy, miles upstate, blanketed in snow and wind chills in the teens, the mighty Tar Heels’ thrashing of paper tiger Kansas on Wednesday night lit a bunsen burner ‘neath all our asses, and we decided to trek into the city for the second game, this time against Stanford.
A more worthwhile two-hour drive was never had, as the electricity at Madison Square Garden was intimate, the food (all crap, of course) was comfortingly bad for us, and Tar Heels put on another show. Again, I must always disclaim the whole “being a fan” thing for those of you who couldn’t care less about sports (or who are fans of, say, the Blue Hens of the University of Delaware) but there’s something very comforting about entering an entire section of folks dressed in your colors, a feeling that is even more heartening when you’re out of your hometown and miss seeing games with 21,444 rabid fans in baby blue. Old friends crop up at these things: I saw Juliette Dickey (late of Mammoth Records), Beth Smith (from the Lab!) and even Alex and Wendi were there. Attending away games reminds you that your clan is always lurking beneath the gritty exterior of an otherwise harsh town.
sarcasm, delight, witticisms and absurdist humor in row E: Sam, Tessa, Jordana, Sean, Seth and Jon. not pictured: me and Chip
Tessa’s nephew Sam has been so captivated by our constant game-fed frenzies that he became a serious Tar Heel fan about two years ago (at age 10) and now refers to them as “we.” When we asked him what high school he wanted to attend, he mentioned Concord in Cambridge, Mass and when Tessa said she thought it was a Morehead school, he said, “well that seals it then.” Gotta start these kids early, what with Dick Vitale mentioning Dook every five seconds. I’ll take any chance I get to spread my hatred of that goddamn place around.
The game, you ask? We won it going away, with several moves on behalf of Raymond Felton that have to be rewound to be believed. I tell you, I have survived on the mother’s milk of Tar Heel basketball for seventeen years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever begun to love a team more (except for Dean’s ’96-’97 crew) nor ultimately cared less about the outcome of each game, since watching them is so much fun.
Yeah, I know it all sounds goofy to those of you who don’t care. I pity you – without sports teams we deprive ourselves of the delightfully irrational; and without a tribe, we deprive ourselves of belonging. All that shit George Will writes about baseball? The PBS series from Ken Burns? It all melts away in the white-hot glow of a 2-on-1 fast break with a streaking trailer for the no-look pass and dunk, I swear to God.
Jackie Manuel goes up against the double-team as Sean May waits for the rebound (click for bigger)