Before I start, let me hit you with a quick disclaimer: I was not at the UNC-Duke game on Saturday.
Okay. You still here? Good.
I may not have been there in person at the Dean Dome, but I feel I have asked enough people that were there to give this post some validity.
The game itself was wild – 18 lead changes in 40 minutes, and the Tar Heels trying to avenge a loss at Cameron Indoor from earlier in the season. Needless to say, the crowd was amped and fully charged.
But the game itself didn’t ignite the biggest crowd reaction of the night. It wasn’t a set of circumstances, a play, or a dancing child on the big board. It was one man, whose mere presence can give chills to an entire room… even if it’s a room of 21,000 people.
At every UNC game, they play the “I’m a Tar Heel” video package, highlighting various rotations of past players. But it always ends the same way, with Michael Jordan on the screen, declaring in his stoic voice that he is, in fact, a Tar Heel.
It’s the easiest way to pander to a packed house of North Carolina fans and it gets the biggest crowd of the night every time.
Except on Saturday night. On that night, something beat it.
As the UNC football team took to center court at halftime to unveil it’s new partnership with the Jordan brand, faces in the crowd started to realize what was incoming. Within seconds, he appeared in the tunnel.
His Airness, #23.
Michael Jordan came out to what can only be described as a mixture of shock, awe, and hysteria from the 21,750 in attendance. The “Greatest of All Time” was there, back home, at the Dean Dome.
As he took the mic and said a few words, every eye was transfixed on him, and every ear dialed into his every word. It was special.
If you want to know how special of an appearance it was, just ask someone who went to the game. They’ll be hard pressed to tell you the score, or who the leading scorer was in the game, but they’ll gladly tell you that they were in the same building as Michael Jordan.
That is what it means to be in the presence of greatness.