The Dunk That Ripped My Pants
For just a second, I want everyone to remember how they felt when Danny Green dunked on Greg Paulus. Need help remembering? Here you go:
I was sitting on press row at Cameron Indoor Stadium when that happened. The only thing better than watching that game on TV was sitting there among the Cameron Crazies and watching their faces fall as they realized their tough little mascot had just been immortalized forever by a one-handed tomahawk.
But it's not the best dunk I've ever seen. Remember how you felt when Green made that play? Now imagine that instead of just being a gnat, Paulus was actually the national player of the year, and a player who had almost singlehandedly propelled his team into the nation's top five while also beating Carolina four out of five times. That was the scenario on Feb. 19, 1997, when Wake Forest came into the Smith Center. Tim Duncan was a senior, and since I am older and more mature now, I can admit this: the way Demon Deacon fans idolized him was incredibly annoying.
Oh, wait. I meant to say that I can now admit that he was a really good player. And he was. He was on his way to averaging 20.8 points and 14.5 rebounds per game as a senior. He was one of the best players of his generation in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
And it was all just a little too much. If you lived through it, you understand. Timmy (Wake fans--something that actually existed back in 1997, although now you would know them as Duke fans--always called him "Timmy") had come from the Virgin Islands. Timmy didn't play much basketball as a kid. Dave Odom discovered Timmy. Can you believe how Timmy has developed? Timmy can shoot with his right and left hand. Timmy is a great student. Timmy is so humble. Timmy is a TRUE DEMON DEACON because he stayed four years while money-grubbing scoundrels like Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace left school early.
It should be pointed out that one thing Timmy didn't do was go to a Final Four. Somehow, the 1995 Wake Forest team that included both a senior Randolph Childress and a sophomore Timmy managed to lose to Oklahoma State in the regional semifinal, and as a senior Timmy fell to Stanford in the round of 32. But still--TIMMY!
One other very big problem: Timmy was good. Really good. He had significant success against Carolina, and was riding a streak of four wins in the last five games when the Deacons came to Chapel Hill during his senior season. Wake was ranked fourth and was insufferable. Carolina was ranked 12th and featured Ed Cota, Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter.
Carter chose that particular night to be phenomenal. In the first half, he singlehandedly outscored the entire Wake team, 21-18. Carolina led, 38-18, at the break, and the outcome was pretty much a foregone conclusion.
Except that the outcome eventually took a backseat to what happened in the second half. I was sitting in my normal seat at the Smith Center, relishing the fact that Timmy was about to take a loss. That's when Carter got the ball on the right wing, dribbled to his left, and, well, this:
By that point, we'd seen enough of Carter, a sophomore, to know what happened when he got into the lane--something spectacular was about to happen. So as he got closer to the rim, I started to stand up. Timmy was there. Vince was there. This was going to be epic. And when Carter exploded to the rim, pulling it down with a two-handed thunder jam on Timmy's head, I leaped just as high as Carter OK, maybe about the height of the Chapel Hill phone book in celebration.
Only one problem: the pocket of my pants had somehow become snagged on the armrest, and when I jumped, the armrest ripped the side of my pocket. I didn't realize it for about two minutes, because I was too busy marveling at Timmy's posterization. Later that year, at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro during the semifinals, this exchange may or may not have occurred (it did):
Scene: Timmy improbably called for a foul against Carolina, something that almost never happened
Wake fan in the stands (whining loudly): "TIMMY DOESN'T FOUL!"
Younger, much less mature Adam who would never consider doing this now (unless Timmy got dunked on again): "BUT TIMMY SURE DOES GET DUNKED ON!"
My wife recently tried to throw out those pants. I told her I need to keep them forever. They're my favorite memory of Timmy.
Follow Adam on Twitter @jadamlucas