We’re several weeks into our worldwide attempt to “flatten the curve” and have been offering daily escapes into the sporting events of yesteryear through our “Filling The Void” series. We’ve looked back on the inspiring, mind-boggling and remarkable events as well as the ordinary, daily games we’ve been missing in our lives. We here at The Turf Sports sincerely hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy and being safe through these trying days. We’d also like to take a moment to send out a huge THANK YOU to all of those front-line folks keeping society going – from the medical community to those stocking grocery store shelves, delivering supplies around the country or helping us all fight this virus together in some other essential, invaluable way. You are all heroes.
Today: Why not go back and watch Patrick Ewing‘s Georgetown Hoyas face-off against Michael Jordan‘s Tar Heels?
We all know how this one ends. First, it’s in the title of this article. Secondly, everyone on the planet watched “The Last Dance” on ESPN this week. Why? Because for the first time in what feels like forever, sports were on TV. Sure we’re filling the void on a daily basis, but there’s nothing like experiencing the rush of a live sporting event. And “The Last Dance” was essentially that.
Now we’ve featured multiple NCAA games these past few weeks, but this one brings a completely different era to the fore-front. The 1980’s NCAA scene was about to explode, and one of the teams playing tonight is the reason why.
The 1981-82 Hoyas entered this game doing something they, or anyone else in the conference, had done so far: getting to the Final Four. The Big East, the conference that is a few years away from turning into an absolute powerhouse, is still in its infancy. With the legendary John Thompson at the helm and a team that’s been led by Sleepy Floyd for the last three years, the Hoyas are also here to showcase their new star.
Patrick Ewing was born on the outskirts of Boston and could have had his pick to play wherever he wanted. Georgetown won the lottery, and in his Freshman year, Ewing has made his presence known. In this game, in fact, the big man from outside Boston was relentlessly reminding the Tar Heels that he could get any ball at any time. Ewing was whistled for goaltending early and often, cheered on by Coach Thompson. In the 30 for 30 documentary “The Requiem for the Big East”, Michael Wilpon explained that Thompson’s once told him that “Player’s don’t remember goaltending calls, they remember getting their shot blocked.” And, he was right, no one would forget Patrick Ewing after this game.
But the reason you’re here is Michael, so let’s talk about the best player on the court. Or was he?
The North Carolina team that Jordan played for had two other players who statistically had him bested. Junior James Worthy and Sophomore Sam Perkins were the top two players on this Final Four Tar Heels team, and there’s a good reason for it. Jordan, who is in his freshman year at Chapel Hill, didn’t have the experience of the two older players, and the stats show that. Worthy and Perkins bested Michael in just about every offensive category, with the exception of Field Goals per Game, but even then Michael’s shooting percentage was lower.
We all tend to think of this as Jordan’s game, but it’s very much not. This game belonged to James Worthy from start to almost finish.
Worthy went off on Georgetown to the tune of 28 points, keeping pace with Ewing who put up 23 on the night. However, while Worthy’s scoring dominance was there, Jordan was quietly picking up the rebound slack, picking up 9 on the night, two shy of Ewing’s total.
And then Michael does what Michael does.
With the game winding down, and North Carolina down by one with 32 seconds left, Senior Jimmy Black, found an open Jordan who sank his shot with 15 seconds left.
We all know Michael Jordan for all of his spectacular highlights. There’s “The Flu Game” and “The Shot” and “The Last Shot” and “The Dunk”, etc. The list goes on and on. However, to see the heroics before we knew who Michael would become, is almost magical. Perhaps success can be destined from the beginning. Perhaps, fourteen years later, we shouldn’t have been surprised that he would do the same thing again, to win his 6th NBA title.
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