Six is the number of 2017 for Carolina fans, who are celebrating their 6th NCAA Basketball Championship thanks to a victory against Gonzaga this past week. Although Gonzaga was supposed to be nearly unbeatable with a 37-1 record, the Heels finally demonstrated what ‘pulling it together in the last 2 minutes’ was supposed to look like and clenched a sweet sweet victory. Chapel Hill had its usual epic celebration with over 55,000 people rushing Franklin Street leaving 7 injured. The key word to note from that past sentence was not epic or 55,000 though, it was the word “usual.”
Carolina is one of the winningest programs in college basketball history. Our six national championships are the third of all time for any university behind UCLA and Kentucky. Carolina has also had more appearances in top 25 AP polls than any other program in college basketball history. UNC fans live, breath and die Carolina basketball, and this is because of the programs’ continued success. There are people all over the world who are UNC fans thanks to Michael Jordan’s legacy. Being a Carolina fan is not endemic to alumni and North Carolina residents. It is endemic to people who care about consistent legendary basketball (and a great looking shade of blue).
We are not one of those schools who has to create celebration traditions with their newfound sporting successes. We have our traditions, and they have been around for a very long time. The Carolina basketball way is waiting 10 hours to get a table at Top of the Hill; rushing Franklin street after victory; and setting bonfires on the street as the police cheer and watch alongside the fans. Because of all of these things, it has made it easy for fans such as myself to make statements such as “when we win our next national championship” as opposed to “if we win our next national championship.” The exception to this is if you were around for the days of Matt Doherty, in which case you were pretentious for saying “when” because it was an “if.” So, as March of 2017 rolled around after the bitter loss that March of 2016 held, Carolina fans knew it was time.
Many people find it incredibly pretentious that Carolina fans speak assumingly about future success. What I always tell these cynics is that the presumptiveness of Carolina basketball fans is what makes Carolina basketball, well, Carolina basketball. An off year for UNC basketball isn’t something that ‘happens.’ It is a tragedy that is not to be repeated, and if it is repeated, the coach’s ass is on the line. You can’t be the third winningest program in college basketball history without the expectation for success. When success isn’t an option, it is something that will be achieved or drastic measures will be taken. Any dynasty operates this way, so our arrogance is something that should be envied, not scorned.
To all of the haters out there, please take a moment to consider why Carolina pride is so offensive to you. Perhaps the Carolina way strikes a nerve with you because you are lacking an understanding of what it feels like to be part of a true dynasty. This isn’t any ten-year rodeo. Carolina basketball has been, is, and will be a dominant force in college basketball for years to come. Carolina fans definitely bark, but we don’t bite. If being part of one of the winningest college basketball programs in the history of the NCAA is something you can get behind- then hop on board. You are welcome here.