This Monday, North Carolina faced Gonzaga in the 2017 National Championship. North Carolina was seeking its 6th National Championship and a shot at redemption. Last year, the Tar Heel lost on a buzzer beater against Villanova. This year, the game took place in Phoenix, Arizona, thousands of miles away from Chapel Hill. Instead of making the expensive journey to Phoenix, thousands of North Carolina faithfuls visited the Dean Dome in hopes of witnessing history. The game was projected on the big screen and among the 9,000 people in the stadium were Noble Brantley, Mitchell Haughee, Trevor Hudson, and myself.
The game went back and forth, causing the crowd in the Dean Dome to panic. With 1:30 left in the game, the Tar Heels found themselves down 2 points. Justin Jackson, who had been underperforming all night, stepped up to the plate. After a crisp backdoor cut, he caught a beautiful pass and made the shot, getting fouled in the process. And one. The stadium erupted as the tide in the game changed. After Isaiah Hicks made a layup to put the Heels up 3 with 30 seconds left, the atmosphere was electric. Gonzaga called timeout and drew up a play to tie the game. The fans were getting anxious, waiting for the game to resume. Goss-Williams was trusted to take the final shot. He got a screen and drive into the lane, straight at Kennedy Meeks. Goss-Williams went up for the shot, the fans fell silent. It hung in the air for a split second but was batted down by Meeks, into the arms of the Heels star point guard, Joel Berry. Berry through the ball down the court to a wide open Justin Jackson. As Jackson rose to dunk the ball the fans at the Dean Dome stormed the court. A man started hugging me, crying tears of joy. We embraced and exchanged affectionate words. I never found out his name but it didn’t matter, all I knew is that we were champions, and I had just witnessed history.
The pandemonium continued as the fans made the trip to Franklin Street to celebrate with the others. The journey was 3 miles and uphill the whole way. My friends and I sprinted the whole way. At this point it was 12 AM but nobody seemed to care. We finally made it to Franklin Street and the scene was breathtaking. 55,000 people crowded into one intersection, climbing trees, light poles and buildings. Street signs were stolen, fires were started, friendships were strengthened, and memories were made. I will never forget that night as long as I live. For I was on Franklin street with my best friends the day the North Carolina Tar Heels won the NCAA National Championship.