Yesterday, between an evangelical get-together in The Alamo and being a faux fat cat in The Legend’s Lair, yours truly got his tour of The Latest Lourdes – the brand spanking new Carolina Basketball Museum in “The Ernie”. ….. BobLee’s perception is likely a tad less syrupy than a Lucas or Kilgo version will be, but It’s FOR SURE “A UNCer Must See”.
It’s The Carolina Basketball Museum for blue heaven’s sake. If you expect to see the gauze they wrapped David Thompson’s head with after “The Fall” or the seat belt that Bones McKinney used or John Wooden’s rolled-up program or Mr. Rupp’s brown suit then you will be disappointed. This is The CAROLINA Basketball Museum ….. not the ACC’s or NCAA’s. ABCers need not bother to schedule a trip to South Campus for the experience. For The Faithful however …. It is the new Lourdes.
Housed on the first floor of “The Ernie” aka the new Ernie Williamson Building next to the Koury Natatorium next to The Legend’s Lair it is truly a whizbang experience for multiple generations of baby blue lemming. Heel Hoop History From Hook To Hansbrough, it’s all there to wade thru and reconvince yourself that “the university’s task is to be an academic institution that its basketball program can be proud of.”
I eschewed last week’s VIP-only Grand Opening because I wanted to observe the untermensch as they moved among the exhibits in reverent tribute to their legendary hardwood heroes in short pants and sneakers. With the Boston College game later that night, I figured there would be flocks of pilgrims visiting Yea Olde New Shrine and there were.
Thursday was also convenient as it’s the weekly evilgelical enclave in The Upper Room at The Alamo. A bunch o’ us fellows most of whom were born during or prior to the Eisenhower administration gather over pizza and chick-fil-a to discuss our latest medical procedures …. and to hear Prince Albert or Dr Danny explain how Peter and Paul invented the Almond Joy in Thessalonica. We don’t sacrifice any billy goats (or wuffs) and devils (of the blue variety) are welcomed. If the god-less dorks of South Building ever try to shut us down, the building’s nickname (The Alamo) will become very appropriate really quick. We might be “evilgelicals” but we are rather a cantankerous collection of Christian curmudgeons not adverse to going a few rounds with any god-less academaniac that might be lurking in the weeds.
When/if Kenan gets its $150,000,000 “Butch-up” we will somehow be accommodated …. “He” does provide dontchaknow. So any hoo … back to Lourdes.
About a month ago, Adam Lucas, publisher of Tar Heel Monthly, wrote his editorial column on how UNC Athletics is THE CLEANEST, THE MOST HONEST, THE BEST DARN college athletics department on the planet. Adam, bless his heart, prefaced that laudation by admitting he had absolutely no personal experience or first-hand knowledge whatsoever of any other college athletic programs other than UNC’s …. But he was pretty sure Carolina’s was THE BEST etc etc etc. Adam, and Prince Tassel Loafer, have the same expansive life experience apparently. ….. Adam is a fine young man and a true washed-in-the-blue blood believer. It must be noted that Tar Heel Monthly is to non-partisan sports coverage what the N&O is to non-partisan political coverage. You know what you’re getting from word one page one.
I mention the above because I am certain Adam will have a upcoming column on The Carolina Basketball Museum that will challenge John Kilgo to a battle of syrupy superlatives. Their combined efforts might even send Wonderful Ol’ Woody into diabetic shock. But again folks …. It IS The Carolina Basketball Museum ….. ABCers be warned.
Over $3.000,000 Fat Cat Bucks were spent on the exhibits. Not the bricks and mortar – on just The Exhibits. Every demographic of Tar Heel disciple will find some personal connection from which to begin his/her journey down memory lane. I have this vision of a 60 year old Tri Delt seeing the Larry Miller collection and telling her grandchildren “there was this Saturday night in the Coker Arboretum during Jubilee when ……”. …… “GRANNY, say it ain’t so …!”
Because it is modern man’s nature to find fault in everything no matter how well done, allow me my several itty bitty “buts”.
The text for the descriptions of the various memorabilia is Uh oh! Yep, pretty darn impossible to read for anyone over 45 with less than fighter pilot visual acuity. Along the same lines …. The curved plexiglass covering the free-standing displays reflect the glare from the overhead lighting further hampering the reading of the fine print. Finally, I was expecting some “interactive exhibits”.
- Show me how tall Wilt was relative to Lennie or Tommy Kearns.
- Let me try Sweet D’s shot in “the comeback game”
- A stack of empty pizza boxes from a Geoff Crompton pre-game snack.
- An inflatable Art Heyman doll I can punch out like Larry Brown did.
- A scorer’s table I can stand on like Makhtar did
- Recreate Rick Fox and Vanessa’s honeymoon suite. …. OK, maybe not.
- A blackjack table with an MJ lookalike where I can bet my child’s college tuition.
The closest thing to “interactive” is the obligatory really big pair of shoes from UNC’s version of Bob Lanier – Eric Montross. Instead of having the shoes behind the curved plexiglass have them glued to the floor so fans can put their feet inside them to compare. …. Howsabout the tire iron and brass knuckles that Dudley Bradley used to mug Clyde Austin on the “mid-court steal & dunk”? ….. Howsabout one of the unmarked bills that Dean used to pay off CHPD when his boy scouts got a bit frisky after midnight? ….. maybe there was a reason BobLee wasn’t asked to be on the planning committee. Ya think?
NOTE: The #1 oops in the entire museum is the late John Lotz’s blazer. It is a simple navy blue blazer!!! Folks, I knew the sartorial resplendent former Dean assistant. John’s wardrobe put Liberace’s to shame. Alexander Julian looked like a Franklin Street derelict next to John Lotz. Replace that drab navy blazer with a tangerine and lime striped double-breasted Edwardian morning coat with epaulets and rhino-horn buttons ASAP. ….. and a pocket puff.
This very very pretty and first class museum (that every Carolina fan MUST SEE) reflects every bit of the light-hearted, self-effacing HUMILITY that the University of North Carolina, its sports programs, and its fanbase are so universally known for ….. every nano-ounce of it ….. bwahahaha. If indeed Pride Cometh Before A Fall …. This museum is proof positive that there’s one helluva “fall” waiting out there somewhere. Carolina Pride oozes out of this place like grease out of a Double Gambler at “The Rat” (may it rest in peace).
You know me folks. I buy my Old Well Kool Aid in 8 oz bottles ….. not in 55 gallon drums.
BobLee respects UNC Sports like Deano once said about The Bible …. “it’s a pretty good book but I’m not so sure I buy into the virgin birth and resurrection parts.”…. gulp! …… I pay my Rams Club dues and sing Aye Zigga Zoomba but are we sure Dean was the 5th Beatle and that Ol’ Roy can turn Gatorade into wine. …. If Ol’ Roy really is The Blue Messiah how come he can’t just lay his hands on Bobby Frasor’s knee and make it all better?
Again The Carolina Basketball Museum in The Ernie is mega-cool and now on “The Bucket List” of every blue bleeding boy and girl on Earth. It’s free and open during normal times you would expect it to be. Check TarHeelBlue.com or call Steve Kirschner at home after midnight.
The absolute ultimate irony that sums up the gut-level essence of Carolina Basketball fans …… one guess what is THE #1 question being asked to the museum staff? Far and way THE #1 question ……
Where is “that letter from Coach K to Michael Jordan”?
A $3,000,000 shrine to Carolina Basketball dominated by a single sheet of stationary with the Duke logo and Mike Krzyzewski’s signature. To quote Larry The Cable Guy and BobLee …. “I don’t care who you are –
Me, Prince Albert, The Henderson Hottie and Mike were Faux Fat Cats in “the lower level” for the BC Blow-out. How fru fru were our seats? We were a long-handled posing shovel away from Carrboro’s Most Sanctimonious Fomer Presidential Wannabee hisownself. Fresh from his 9th Ward “I Quit” photo op, Courageous Elizabeth’s apple-cheeked boy toy was on hand with the two little kids and either his oldest daughter or his “with child” girlfriend Reille Hunter. I’m not sure which and did not much care to ask despite the urgings of Prince Albert.
As I toured the Basketball Museum I wondered if BCS Butch even knew it was open and/or would he be bringing all his “5 Stars” by to see it? Huuummmm …. That $3,000,000 coulda been used to add rhinestone sparklies to Kenan-Davis Stadium.