The impact was immediate. “When we
came back on that Sunday, we figured, you
know, there’d be a few people to greet us,”
Quigg said. An estimated 10,000. Traffic was
backed up from Raleigh-Durham Airport
to Chapel Hill. There were people on the
‘I played basketball’
It was, to understate, a different time.
Team manager Joel Fleishman ’ 58 tossed
the championship trophy into the laundry
bag. The players were astounded when
people back home wanted their autographs.
The championship rings, now a standard,
were unheard of then, and the ’ 57 Heels
wouldn’t get rings until 1995.
The core of the championship team,
minus Rosenbluth, was back in the fall with
high expectations. Quigg broke his leg in
the preseason and never played again. Brennan was ACC Player of the Year, and Kearns
was second-team All-American. Carolina
lost six in the season and came up short on
the ACC championship game.
One of the Kansas alumni who had
gone away unhappy the year before was a
young Dean Smith, at the time an assistant
coach at Air Force. Head coach Bob Spear
had taken Smith with him to the tourna-
ment, where they crowded into a hotel suite
for three nights with three other basketball
people — one of whom was McGuire.
The downhearted Smith accepted
McGuire’s request to address the team after
the game, as recounted in Adam Lucas’
book, The Best Game Ever. Then he recommended the steakhouse where they
went to celebrate.
Back home, assistant coach Buck Free-
man was out; his battles with alcoholism
had resurfaced in the pressure of the cham-
pionship season. McGuire gave the job to
Smith, and the rest of that is …
The dapper one had played loose with
NCAA rules governing entertainment of
recruits and expenses for players’ families,
and in 1960, UNC was under investigation.
McGuire’s trusted scout Harry Gotkin was
caught up in it, and in 1961, Carolina was
placed on probation. McGuire left for the
pros, where he coached Chamberlain. In
the 1970s, he got under Carolina’s skin as
coach at then-ACC member South Caro-