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North Carolina National Championship 2017: The Tar Heels are back on top

It’s a great day to be a Tar Heel.

Gonzaga v North Carolina Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

If scientists could find a way to bottle the feeling of your favorite team winning the national championship, they’d probably never have to work another day in their lives. Maybe it’s because I am a Carolina basketball fan first and foremost in my sports fandom, but it just feels like there is nothing else close.

Think about where you were and who you were with when Carolina won it all in 1993, or 2005, or 2009. I bet you remember. I’m sure that you can recall in vivid detail how you felt and how you celebrated the Tar Heels being back on top. The memories that you added last night will be just the same, able to be recalled at a moment’s notice when prompted long after the finer details of this season have faded from memory.

I don’t think this season played out in true fairytale fashion, but maybe it was close. The pain that all of the players felt after last year’s loss was a bit of a cloud over everything, but you also got the sense that this team could be very special too. They wanted to avenge Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, and Joel James. Roy Williams loved those guys and remains upset they had to leave without a championship. Luckily, the same won’t have to be said for Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, Nate Britt, and Stilman White, and presumably Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson, too.

Getting back to the national championship in back-to-back years is so difficult to do. Had last night not gone our way, that would still be true...but moral victories don’t feel as good as real ones. Just getting back there wouldn’t have been enough to satisfy these guys, but it shouldn’t just be glossed over how incredible that feat is. Fortunately, we can now acknowledge that and celebrate a hard-fought victory.

It seems like each year I think at some point that I’ll never love another team the way I love this one. I thought that in 2009 and I thought that again in 2016. Marcus Paige is probably my favorite player to ever wear Carolina blue, and it seemed impossible that I’d be able to reach the same level of adoration for a team without him.

As much as I adore Paige and believe he embodies everything it means to be a Tar Heel, I also love Justin Jackson, Joel Berry, and Kennedy Meeks. The way those guys carried the team this year has been amazing to watch. Jackson now ranks among my favorite Tar Heels ever. Berry basically carried the entire team to the championship with his play in the final game. Meeks carried them through basically the entire tournament with a performance reminiscent of Sean May’s in 2005.

One of my favorite things is that Roy Williams doesn’t just coach these guys into being good basketball players. They’ll all tell you that he also coaches them into being good men. They are all fantastic ambassadors for UNC, and who they are makes you proud to be even a small part of what they do. It makes it so much easier to be a fan when you feel like you’re cheering on guys worthy of your praise.

It speaks volumes to the character of these young men (and Coach Williams) that they would still choose to come to the University of North Carolina despite all of the fear mongering that no doubt occurred during their recruitment. I have no doubt that many of them were told they’d never be allowed to make it to this place if they chose Carolina, but they chose them anyway. And now they are champions.

It feels again like I’ll never love another team as much as I love this one, but I know the kind of players Roy Williams brings in will make it impossible for that to remain true for very long.

No matter how many media types and fans of other teams are ready to take this opportunity to disparage this team, our coach, or this university, I refuse to feel any inadequacy about my degree from this school, the coach who I believe is one of the better men in existence, or the school that I know helped make me who I am. I won’t feel bad about any of that.

I wanted this for all of those guys who were so heartbroken by last year’s result. I wanted this for Roy Williams, who is unmistakably hurt by the allegations that people have tossed his way. Selfishly, I wanted it for me too. I also wanted it for all the guys who help me keep Tar Heel Blog running because they are tremendous fans who do this because they love Carolina.

Love for this team runs so strong in pretty much all of us. It makes us do silly things, like wear one shirt for the length of an entire tournament, or switch seats whenever it feels like we’ve thrown off the balance of the basketball universe. It makes you question whether or not watching from a new, untested location would be good luck or not. Love for this team is meeting your fellow Tar Heel Blog writers before the national championship game to get egg rolls because some guy did some research that said it might help.

The pure delirious happiness and pride of a national championship is so special. We’re so fortunate as fans to be in this position once again. I wouldn’t trade this feeling with this team with this school for anything. I’ll miss this team so much, but they have ensured they’ll be remembered among the greats of Carolina basketball forever.

It’s a great day to be a Tar Heel. It always is, and it always will be.