A week or so ago, Time Magazine published an online article arguing that for the sake of basketball in the state of North Carolina, Duke and UNC should root for each other in games against out-of-state opponents.
Clearly, this writer is clueless. Not being a North Carolina native himself, he does not understand just how seriously we take our college basketball here. When he was in middle school and high school, his teachers probably did not wheel in a TV to watch the ACC Tournament daytime games. He does not know that kids are allowed to stay up past their bedtimes for certain games in this state.
He does not know that the Carolina-Duke game means bragging rights until the next game. Austin Rivers’ game-winning shot only mattered until the Tar Heels took Cameron and the Duke seniors lost their final home game.
And he does not understand that no self-respecting Carolina fan can cheer for Duke, no matter the circumstances. I can cheer for any other ACC school, especially in the NCAA Tourney. Mostly, I want the ACC to do well. (I was thrilled that N.C. State beat Georgetown. I do not, however, want a rivalry matchup in the regional final because I might have a stroke, so I don’t really want to see them beat Kansas, unless UNC loses to Ohio, in which case, Go Pack! College basketball math can get a little complicated.)
But you see, Duke and Carolina are not really from the same state at all. Duke and UNC do not stand for the same things or represent the same values. We don’t have shared childhood experiences. Duke basketball isn’t about the state of North Carolina in any way. A UNC fan cheering for Duke isn’t actually supporting his state. He’s supporting New England boarding schools.
Which brings me back to Kendall Marshall’s wrist. Sort of.
March Madness is one of the best things in the world. If I didn’t have to work, I could happily sit in front of the TV for 4 days straight during the first two rounds and watch basketball constantly. But then the unthinkable happens.
UNC’s point guard gets fouled. Hard. Apparently those Nebraskan Catholics play some dirty basketball. He goes down, and you think, “oh please no!” Then he comes back, and you think it’s going to be ok. Except that it’s not. Kendall Marshall has a broken wrist, and I almost cried.
I do know, somewhere in the logical recesses of my mind, that an emotionally charged reaction to the injury of a stranger is not normal. But he’s not really a stranger. He’s the guy that was going to lead the Heels to the Final Four. And Carolina loves its point guards.
So what happens the day after Kendall Marshall breaks his wrist?
My pastor creates a Facebook page for Marshall’s wrist (http://www.facebook.com/KendallMarshallsWrist).
And all of Tar Heel Nation anxiously awaits news, and hopes and prays (yes, prays) that Marshall will somehow recover enough to be back on the court Friday by 7:45. It’s not his dominant wrist, after all.
And if not?
Well, at least we didn’t lose to Lehigh.