A Carolina Tradition Like No Other

January18/ 2000

…. “Bonnie & Clyde” has generated more “BobLee, YOU’RE WRONG” reader replies than any column I can ever recall … and THAT’S OK.  Nobody F-Bombed me demanding I join your vigilante lynch mob heading to Cameron Indoor.   If you were serving Brunswick Stew I’d a gone.  Two columnist buddies of mine who write about trivial crap like world peace and crooked politicians got MUCH worse reader e-mails this week than I did. …. WARNING :  This column is rather long and extremely weird.

I say to you guys and gals as Jackie Gleason used to say about his Miami Beach audiences …. “You’re The Greatest!”.  … OF COURSE I knew that Bonnie & Clyde was going to get a few 100 of you sorta bug-eyed and teetering on the abyss.  But I marked our trail well and knew I could reel ya back in.  For me to imply that Coach K “MIGHT” have maybe one redeemable quality was tantamount to saying your mamma wears steel-toed Red Wing brogans.  He probably doesn’t …. and she probably doesn’t.

The concerns so many of you expressed was merely a sincere concern for my personal sanity and who doesn’t need friends like that.  I’m OK, you’re OK, K is an Insane WarLord in Dan Scratch’s Imperial Legion, and Ol’ Roy IS The Blue Messiah.  The Universe is in order.

The issue was never The Incident, but the resultant firestorm of anger and rage that has followed it.  And THAT is a subject I have a passion for.

Tyler is “cool” about The Incident.  Wayne Ellington and Gerald Henderson are still best buddies after The Incident.  Ol’ Roy seems to have focused on other issues and seems satisfied with how everything about The Incident was handled.  ….. The UNC Lunatic Fringe forever whines that K has everybody fooled.  Who everybody?  Since Sunday the guy has been trashed in every media form from National Georgraphic to Weekly Reader to a billboard in South Central LA claiming Mickie is leaving Mike for P Diddy.  Ann Coulter and Apple Cheeks were even seen holding hands at a Hate Coach K Rally in Cedar Rapids.  So … Who everybody ???

Why has this taken on a “Francisco Franco is still dead” status that we as 2007 society usually reserve for Anna Nicole, little Jessica in the well, Gary Condit’s sex life, and TomKat’s wedding plans?   Carolina won the game … Tyler Tuff From Poplar Bluff is still playing and with his “legend” as a crazy tuff guy greatly augmented … and those legendary 8,000,000,000 Chinese that Dean said “don’t care” now “don’t care … FOR Coach K”.  

I reread “Bonnie & Clyde” three times.  I saw what I said.  That a faction of Tar Heel fans went bat sh*t rabid over The Incident.  Their comments and general behavior was, in my opinion, an embarrassment to everyone else who claims to be “a Tar Heel fan”.  The “all a buncha …” rule was in effect by default. ….

I can read bilge from a waaaay overly-caffeinated Wolfpack fan that bears no semblance whatsoever to any form of reality.  Comments that do not come within a light year of any fact.  That singular example of one individual’s inability to generate cogent thought is tossed into a cage of ravenous Tar Heel Shineolas who rip it apart like 40 pit bulls on a bloody bunny.  As the blood, bone, and viscera is devoured one hears “the cry” …. “SEEThey’re ALL a buncha …” based on one representing the whole. …………  If that be the case, then 100s of such totally incoherent lunatics screaming high octane babble after The Incident have indicted generations yet unborn of Tar Heel fans as sub-mongoloids.  I resented that.  I still do … and so should each of you.

What Gerald Henderson meant to do and what Mike Krzyzewski meant to say about The Incident was never the point of my column.  I could not care less BECAUSE I know how even otherwise rational Tar Heels feel about Mike Krzyzewski.

   The bulk of the readership of this very well-read site are “accomplished professionals”…… attorneys, physicians, judges, pharmacists, engineers, ministers, middle and upper level business owners, managers and executives.  I dare say this site has the highest % of such readers anywhere on the world wide web.  There is that site devoted to “Where Are They Now” 35 years of Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and that Barbara Eden & Ann-Margaret Co-Retrospective … but I don’t count those as competitive sites.

   When I see rational intelligent men and women foamin’ at the mouth, bayin’ at the moon and so mad they’re bitin’ their tongues off tryin’ to speak … it ain’t time to gather in a circle and sing KuBaya … ya’ll.   If Mike Krzyzewski is the straw dog you’ve chosen to focus your primal hate on, and obviously many of you have, I think that’s far preferable to using children, spouses, co-workers, service personnel, furry house pets, sheetrock walls, and that guy ahead of you in the Corolla sitting still on a green light.  Is such negative emotion healthy?  Probably not, but neither is eating lard straight from the can … or cleaning wax outta your ears with a hacksaw blade … and who doesn’t do that?

There was a time a mere six months ago when a Tar Heel fan had choices … three in fact.  He/She could channel thsir primal hate to one, two or three recipients in whatever % time and circumstances warranted.

There was of course Coach K as there still is, but we also had Chuck Amato and My friends call me Dickie.  If Carolina Basketball is not a 365/12/24/7 obsession with you, you could go with intense Chuck Hate in the Fall … full throttle K-Hate in the Winter and keep a year-round Dickie-hate sort of simmering like a crock-pot of stew over on the counter by the coffee-maker. …. But in the same month, Chuck got zapped into smithereens … and Dickie, simply by not preventing Butch from being hired, saw his status changed to “Whatever happened to that little Baddour fella?”.  Anonymity richly deserved and sought by the diminutive administrator for over a decade.  ….. Leaving the available UNC Primary Hate menu with simply a “K”.

Oh there are “appetizers” on the menu such as Spurrier or Rick Barnes, Bob Knight, Fulmer,  Petino, Dickie V, and for the hard-cores with long memories there is still “He lied to dem boys – Mack” but K is about all there is for rank and file Tar Heels to sink their pointy teeth into. …. To paraphrase Henry Ford’s Hobson’s Choice …. You can hate whoever you want, so long as you hate Mike Krzyzewski.

I’m pretty sure Mike knows his purpose in in this psycho-drama.  I have a theory that such legendary incidents as “back surgery” … “Lakers offer” … “Amex commercials … et al are all calculated for the unmitigated angst each will generate just eight miles down 15-501.

I have it on excellent authority that when Mike got the call that he had been named USA Basketball Coach his first comment to Joe Alleva was “I reckon about a 8.6, Joe” referring to the Richter Scale shock reading that news would figuratively have on Franklin Street and its habitués.   He’s been at Duke over 20 years folks.  He kinda knows “YOU DON’T LIKE HIM!” and there ain’t a darn thing he can do about it.

The Richter Scale guys are already readying a prototype of a super heavy-duty seismic reader that will only be used one time … the day Mike Krzyzewski passes Dean Smith in total wins.  That one moment will topple the Bell Tower and shake the fabled rafters of the fabled Legend’s fabled Lair.  Willie Scroggs has an evacuation plan already drawn up just for that occurrence.

The North Carolina Lotsa Pork (BUT NOT Education) Lottery will print a special lotto card.  You buy the card from the Islamo-fascist clerk at the corner c-store.  It will have the phrase “Yeah, Ratface may have more wins BUT ________________”.  You fill in “the BUT” in 25 words or less.  Why the West Point graduate from South Chicago will never supplant His Legendness in your eyes.  Lottery officials will warn you that the phrase “no good lyin’ mutha*****r” is considered four words.  A creative phrase will be pre-selected.  If yours matches that one you can win a gazillion $$$.  If no one has the correct phrase, the jackpot goes to a special Duke Endowment to reimburse the three persecuted Lacrosse families.

Yes, I’ve read all the national articles on The Incident and the local ones including that one by a certain notorious bottom-feeding troglodyte whose columns pander specifically to junior grade mouth breathing idgits with single digit IQs.  No, I won’t mention him by name, as a show of my total disrespect for his work.


   Competitive sports will always have incidents like The Incident.  Large and very athletic men flying around are going to collide on occasions.  The specific circumstances of this one made it almost The Perfect Incident.  Only way it coulda been more dramatic woulda been a touch of The Return of The SkyWalker ….. return with us now.

An Eastern Regional game in fabled William Neal Reynolds Coliseum in the mid 70s … Destiny’s Lupine Children versus Pitt.  The Legendary SkyWalker From Shelby flies high … how high BobLee? … coming DOWN his knee catches on another player SHOULDER.  Hold that image of “how high”.  The SkyWalker flips upside down and crashes headfirst onto the (very) hardwood. …. BANG! Like a 30.30 in the clear mountain air.  12,000 people stopped breathing as The SkyWalker lay totally still.  Medical personnel rush to his aid … The SkyWalker lay totally still.  He is placed on a stretcher and carried from the fabled arena.  That all took about 10 minutes.  12,000 still had not taken a breath since they heard that awful sound of The SkyWalker’s head hitting the hardwood from 12’.

The home team was holding their own against the out-manned Panthers but the soul of the team had been carried motionless from their midst …. to a fate unknown.

The game continued but all thoughts of a WolfpackNation were on their hero … carried motionless from the very arena where he had created such legendary memories.  The specifics of the game are vague but not about what happened next.  A moment in Wolfpack history matched only by Lorenzo’s airball in ’83 and by V’s “never give up” speech.

History doesn’t record how he arrived.  Not quite like Lazerus thru a hole in the roof but walking under his own power thru one of Reynolds’ narrow doorways.  Who saw him first is not known but first one, then another and another and another.  He smiled that familiar shy smile as he walked past them and headed for the court and his mates.  And as he passed each fan, it started …. Like the first raindrops in a summer thunderstorm … an incredible cheer from deep within a fan where his unreasonable love for “his team” lives. … multiplied 12,000 times to such a roar that some say actually raised the roof like ne’er before nor since in that fabled building That Ev Case Built.  Charlie Bryant was there.  Frank Weedon was there.  CA Dillon and Wally Ausley and Bill Jackson and 12,000 Wolfpack fans were there for ….  The Return of The SkyWalker.

Can you define “goosebumps”?  Ask those 12,000 who were there that day and they will say “they’re what covered us all when we saw David standing there” with his head wrapped in gauze but alive, safe, and smiling … that shy smile.


   So maybe had The Sunday Incident happened LIKE THIS …   Early in the 2nd half a designated goon carries out his assignment coldcocking Tyler.  Poplar Bluff’s favorite son rushes out of sight leaving only the frozen grotesque image of his impassioned face and Carolina Blue jersey covered in his crimson blood.

His teammates continue their battle versus the hated rival but minus their heart and soul … minus their Tyler.  Its nip and tuck and tuck and nip the tide of battle ebbing and flowing first one way … then the other … at the 3:00 minute mark the hated Devils take the lead on five consecutive flopping calls.  Their diabolical leader is in a profane rage sensing the kill.  His obscene screams echo thru the cavernous dome numbing the faint hearts of 22,000 dishearted home team loyalists.

And then ……

John Edwards would later claim he was the first to “see him” from his normal seat beside the tunnel.  But since Edwards was in California discussing Jesus with janitors at the time only a few 1,000 bewildered fools believed him.  Actually it was Ken Cleary, UNC’s crackerjack video boardmeister from his seat across from the tunnel.  Shunning his normal all-business seriousness, Ken jumped to his feet screaming LOOK LOOK, TYLER’S BACK. 

As the orthopedist’s son from Poplar Bluff with the shoulders of a blacksmith and the heart of a lion emerged with his face covered in bandages and a crude mask quickly fashioned from Ol’ Roy’s favorite putter and some duct tape … but THE EYES …. Those Tyler Eyes burned thru the crude mask with an intensity that reached the dweebs way up in the nosebleed section (pun intended!).  Still wearing the Holy Vestment … it still soaked in his crimson essence.

Tyler’s gorgeous stepmom fainted at the fearsome sight and had to be revived with 20 minutes of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation by the entire pledge class of Phi Delta Theta and a chubby security guard named Grover.

He reached his coach at midcourt … what was said was never revealed by either one but CV McGrath thought he heard Ol’ Roy say “Is that my favorite putter cut up and fashioned into a crude mask using duct tape?”  But we’ll never know for sure.

From the moment he had set foot back on the court a roar had gone up from the depths of 22,000 throats that had not subsided … and would not until destiny’s cards were played. …… There would be 22,000 sets of memories fashioned in those next few minutes but all agreed the look of total horror on the face of the diabolical leader of Satan’s horde was beyond description … like Algore lecturing on Global Warming or Ted Kennedy saying most anything.

The man they called “Coach K” must have known the moment Ken screamed “LOOK LOOK TYLER’S BACK that it was indeed all over but the shouting and what a SHOUTING it was.  UNC Athletic Director Dickie Baddour would later describe it as “so loud it kind of hurt my ears”.

It was almost anticlimactic.  He was a man possessed … even more so than usual.  It would be the greatest three minutes of basketball He would ever play.  He was everywhere on offense and defense … skying for every loose ball … draining threes … slamming down caroms … feeding his mates with laser-guided passes … from 14 points down with naught but 3 minutes to play … He led his mates to a comeback victory that none would ever forget … and His Name would be forever etched in the pantheon of heroes …

Yes Indeed …. Dewey “Biscuit” Burke saved the day for Tar Heels everywhere on that fateful day … Sunday, March 4, 2007.

But BobLee, where was Tyler?  As he was talking to Ol’ Roy, Tyler saw the chubby security guard, Grover, try to slip some tongue to his comatose gorgeous stepmom so he rushed over and stomped the crap out of him.  Finally subdued by a CHPD SWAT team sniper with a tranquilizer dart, Tyler was incarcerated 4 days for assaulting Grover and another 2 days for destroying Roy’s putter.  He is expected out in time for Tampa.

A forlorn Coach K commented after the game that he thought it was unfortunate that Roy was still playing Biscuit in the final three minutes of the game.


      A REAL TOUGHIE …. Which teammate’s shoulder did The Skywalker catch his leg on, causing his fateful fall?  No, it was NOT Tommy.  Not even The Skywalker could jump THAT high.


    So far 38 readers have reported very strange looks from family and business associates as they can’t stop singing Sail With The Pilot.  Chill dudes, it will wear off in 72 hours, probably.

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