The Greatest Media Day Ever

By Adam Lucas | 1 Comment(s) | Posted

This afternoon is UNC basketball media day. That's good, because it means basketball season is that much closer. But I don't expect it to compare to the greatest media day I ever saw.

I believe this happened in October of 1995 (it may have been 1996, but I think it was '95). Vince Carter was a high-flying freshman who was still known mostly for his dunking. He was about to experience an uneven freshman season that would see Ademola Okulaja beat him out for a starting spot, and the Smith Center crowd would sometime rumble--they didn't boo, but it was about as close as you could get without actually doing it--when he was quickly pulled from games after making a mistake. The reason they were rumbling--not booing--was because Carter could really jump. You owe it to yourself to watch this:

So, yes, Carter was a fan favorite. And evidently he was a media favorite as well. At Media Day, players spread out around the Smith Center court, and reporters approach them to ask questions. There's also a photo session, as media outlets take the photos they'll be using for the rest of the season to illustrate their Tar Heel basketball stories. But per a longstanding Tar Heel basketball rule, freshmen can't talk to the media until they play in an official game, so they often end up with very little to do for a half-hour.

As players staked out their interview spots and the freshmen wandered off to try to find something to do, I happened to notice a reporter--whose name will be redacted to protect the questionable--pushing his baby in a stroller over to Carter.

Now, in general, babies in strollers are not something you see at every Media Day. But then I noticed that this particular reporter was positioning his baby and stroller about halfway between the free throw line and the basket. My intrepid journalistic impulses kicked in, and I wandered over to see what was happening. It turned out that the reporter was asking Carter if he would jump from the free throw line--over the baby in the stroller--and dunk the ball, so that this particular reporter could take a photo of it. Again, this was a live baby (at least, for the moment) that belonged to this reporter.

Carter, as you would expect, was a little surprised by the request. This was 19-year-old Vince Carter, who had not yet leaped over a Frenchman in the Olympics or dunked on Tim Duncan in the Smith Center. Today, he probably has jumped over a baby at some point in his career. But at 19, well, it seemed a little different. He was hesitant, but he started to warm to the idea as the reporter explained what a cool shot it would be. And, let's be honest, who wouldn't want to have a Christmas card featuring Vince Carter jumping over your baby?

It's just that, well, it was a little dangerous. Even the 1995 version of me, the one that  thought Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It" was a musical masterpiece, thought, "I'm not entirely sure this is a good idea."

To this day, I really think Carter would have gone through with it and attempted to jump over the baby, thereby potentially risking his career and all future media access to UNC basketball, if a Carolina media staffer hadn't intervened. I believe the conversation went something like this:

UNC media staffer: "You want him to do what?"

Reporter: "Jump over this stroller."

UNC media staffer: "With the baby in it?"

Reporter: "That's right."

Carter: (Shrugs, looks a little intrigued, as if to say, "The guy wants me to jump over his baby, I'm going to jump over his baby.")

UNC media staffer: "That's not going to happen."

1995 Adam (humming to himself): "This is how we do it, all hands are in the air."

I've been to every Carolina basketball media day since then, and none has ever measured up to that one. Until today. You see, I've got a 9-year-old and a 7-year-old and J.P. Tokoto has great leaping ability. Check your mailbox around Christmas for the results.


  1. Theo Wu's avatar
    Theo Wu
    | Permalink
    Adam, if you can convince Roy Williams to let you do that, can I be on your Christmas mailing list? Hopefully, you won't have that many requests...

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