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UNC Basketball: Revisiting bloody Tyler Hansbrough

Where does the time go?

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Duke Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Ten years ago to the day, Tyler Hansbrough was elbowed in the face by Gerald Henderson.

There are people out there who will tell you that there was no malice here. None whatsoever. Billy Packer will go to his grave thinking that a) Deron Williams can lockdown Raymond Felton and b) Gerald Henderson had no ill intent with that forearm shiver.

Listen; I have nothing against Gerald Henderson personally. I don’t know the guy. Probably never will, to be honest. And I know that both he and Tyler Hansbrough have said it wasn’t intentional. That is all fine and dandy. But this isn’t the Zapruder film. It’s quite clear what happened. Does that mean Gerald Henderson deserves to be tried for war crimes? That isn’t for me to say. I’m just a simple man making some simple observations.

At its core, this is what this rivalry is all about. It is about the fans - living and working together - creating their own narratives. The media, referees, announcers, Illuminati, etc. are out to get their team. It allows the hate to fester and the theories to run wild. It is a full embrace of viewing the other team as the worst humanity has to offer.

The 2007 incident is a perfect microcosm of that mindset. Duke fans will swear up and down that it was just a hard foul. Carolina fans will tell you that Henderson literally took a baseball bat, called his shot like Babe Ruth and started beating on Hansbrough. If it had been Hansbrough injuring Henderson, the roles from both fanbases would be flipped. That’s the nature of the rivalry.

Tonight, these two teams will meet again. Both teams will be ranked again. Passions will be at a fever pitch once more. Hopefully, nothing like the event a decade ago happens. But if it does, Sunday morning both sides will swear their side is right and the other side is wrong. Again. And who’s to say they both aren’t right? That, in their own eyes, both sides can’t simultaneously claim the moral high-ground in this rivalry in the face of any contrary evidence? That incident may have been ten years ago but at the end of the day, it happens every single day in the minds of Carolina and Duke fans.

Enjoy the greatest rivalry in sports, everyone.