Tonight, the greatest rivalry in college basketball (and sports in general) renews itself for the 244th time. UNC-Duke, the Battle of Tobacco Road, the fight between the two giants in college basketball… While there has been countless moments to build this rivalry over the past century, I thought I would look back at my favorite moment during my lifetime.
Spoiler: It’s not a surprise.
The Danny Green dunk. It’s the quintessential moment of this rivalry since my birth in 1996. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it originally, and I still can’t believe it when I watch replays of it. It’s perfect.
It’s a play that defines everything about the rivalry – two tops teams going at each other 100 percent, both with a drive to make whatever play is necessary to gain the advantage.
Lets look at the play as a whole. It all starts with a Greg Paulus. The tenured Duke guard launched up a three pointer and it clanks off of the left side of the rim. Out of the fray to collect the rebound in his outstretched arms is Danny Green – UNC’s “Mr. Do Everything” player from this team. Notice how Green reaches even higher than the rim to get the board.
With the ball in hand, Green rushes up the floor, switching up his dribbling hand to force Gerald Henderson to crash into the hardwood right behind him.
As he crosses half court, a sweet no-look pass to Marcus Ginyard on the edge is returned right back to Green – a crisp give and go.
Then, the slam. Paulus does his best to get into a charge position, but it was to no avail. Green elevates to a level rarely seen in a live game, and busts right through Paulus. The play silenced Cameron Indoor.
Once again, perfect.
In my mind, it’s an unforgettable play. It will always make the rivalry’s highlight reel, and justifiably so.
So as far as tonight’s game goes, we can only hope for a great game and one more play that we can marvel at for the decades to come.