You Said I Couldn’t Yell

As we mourn the passing of Lorenzo Charles, the great memories of the 1983 title run are flooding my mind. That was such a special time and I’m so glad to have experienced it. With that in mind, I posted the following as a note for all my friends on Facebook and thought it was worth sharing with the readers of StateFans Nation.

On April 4, 1983 NC State played for and won, its second national championship in men’s basketball.  My family and I were on a spring break pilgrimage to see the Mouse, and were staying at the Days Inn Orlando. We booked our trip six months earlier with no idea that our beloved Wolfpack would be playing for the national title.

After spending the day playing in the Magic Kingdom, we left the park well before closing, got a pizza and settled into our room. We’ve all seen the replay of the game tons of times and it was certainly as thrilling that very first time as it was 100 times later.

State jumped out to an 8 point lead at halftime and then came out in the second half as cold as ice. Houston went on a 17-2 run and the Pack was down 7 points coming down the home stretch of the game. At this point, the Wolfpack guards start bombing in from loooooong range. The Houston lead was cut to 4 and then 2 and then tied.

During the furious comeback, my Dad saw the need to sit me down and give me a quick lecture. “Son, IF, and I mean IF we win this thing, you CANNOT go screaming and yelling. You’ll disturb the other guests in the hotel and they’ll throw us out. If we win, you just grab that pillow, hold it against your face and scream into that.”

So of course, Derek Whittenburg makes his famous “pass”, Lorenzo Charles catches it and dunks to win the game and make our dreams come true. I did as I was told, and grabbed that pillow and screamed and cried for all I was worth.

Meanwhile, across the room my Dad leaps up out of his chair, YELLING – “We did it, We’re the national champions!!” And then proceeds to BREAK A LAMP. And I’m staring at him, bewildered crying – “You told me I couldn’t yell!!”  Despite my Dad’s “do as I say not as I do” euphoria, none of the other rooms complained as you could hear the yelling all through the hotel.

None of us got much sleep that night and the next day at Disney World seemed to hold a little bit of extra magic as we strutted around in our NC State gear with our chests stuck out as far as possible.

By the time we got back to Raleigh, the local celebrations were over. And certainly the week-old 8th grade smack and crowing was not quite as fresh as it would have been the Tuesday morning after the game. As great as it would have been to be in Raleigh that week, I would not trade that memory of my Dad for anything.

Thank you Lorenzo.


About SMD

SMD graduated from NC State at a time when beating UNC-CH in both major revenue sports was a regular occurrence. This was well before a time when I could express my frustrated attempts at being a writer on the "internets." When I'm not talking about the Pack, I'm probably arguing politics.

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43 Responses to You Said I Couldn’t Yell

  1. Trout 06/28/2011 at 9:46 AM #

    Great story! Thanks for sharing.

    12+ hours later after hearing the news, I’m still stunned. Lo C created one of the most defining moments of my life, no doubt.

    I got an autographed photo of him making the dunk just this past September.

    Obviously the dunk will go down in history, but the one game I most remember LoC was a game over at Cameron when he literally destroyed Duke. It was my freshman year at NC State, Lo C’s senior year. Duke double and tripled teamed him, and he still scored something like 33+ points in a huge NC State win. People forget he was an All-ACC player his Jr and Sr years.

    And free throws. People might forget the key free throws LoC made along the route to the national title.

    In the opening game of the ACCT in Atlanta, he hit 2 free throws against Wake in the final seconds to give us the lead and the win.

    In the West Regional final against UVa and Ralph Sampson, he hit his final free throw to break a tie and give us the lead. UVA tried for the final shot, but missed, and we won.

    NC State lost a true treasure and someone who brought happiness and joy to our University and millions of college basketball fans.

  2. buclark 06/28/2011 at 9:47 AM #

    My kids were 7 and 4 and while they ended up at Ga Tech, that night we were all Wolfpackers. I think even my youngest thinks he remembers “the dunk”. We screamed in the den and had a hard time getting the boys into bed. Lorenzo Charles…Lorenzo Charles…Lorenzo Charles…

  3. jbpackfan 06/28/2011 at 9:55 AM #

    Thinking about that incredible moment in 1983 brings tears to my eyes almost every time. But today it’s even more meaningful.

  4. Prowling Woofie 06/28/2011 at 10:14 AM #

    Thanks, SMD -

  5. tractor57 06/28/2011 at 10:18 AM #

    I was in Spartanburg, SC having graduated in 1979 I had joined the work world. A number of us gathered in an apartment in the complex where I lived and I was actually on the phone relaying the events to another state grad who was at work at the time.

    Yes an OMG moment!

    As I heard Thurl Bailey say this morning “now Jimmy V has someone to hug”.

    I think that tourney and especially the State dream come true propelled a sports event to a whole ‘nuther plane.

  6. PoppaJohn 06/28/2011 at 10:18 AM #

    I always thought Lorenzo was one of Valvano’s best coaching jobs. He was an afterthought on the team with Lowe, Whit and Thurl but then WAS the team for the next couple of years. I remember thinking we were going to be terrible when the three seniors left, but we weren’t.

    My sympathies to his family.

  7. JEOH2 06/28/2011 at 10:49 AM #

    I hope that we do the right thing and honor Lo Charles with one of those black patches w/ 43 on it…also a moment of silence before the first home game would be appropriate…maybe later in the year during ACC play a tribute video at halftime w/ words from former teammates…

  8. VaWolf82 06/28/2011 at 10:58 AM #

    I was also in Orlando during that fateful night in 1983. I quickly calmed down and called my friends still in Raleigh before they left to the celebrations on the Brickyard and Hillsborough St.

    RIP Lo.

  9. TeufelWolf 06/28/2011 at 11:19 AM #

    I was too young to remember this happening in real time but I appreciate listening to the stories of people who do remember it. I hope it inspires Lorenzo B and CJ to understand they can be a part of something special here. You can’t think of College Basketball without thinking about that moment. If I were them, I’d have goosebumps thinking I could be apart of an iconic moment like that someday. Thank you Jimmy V and Lorenzo Charles.

  10. TruthBKnown Returns 06/28/2011 at 11:20 AM #

    Great story, thanks for sharing!

    This is a sad day of mourning for the Wolfpack nation. It’s good to hear a great story like this to lighten the mood just a little bit. I like to think Lorenzo is smiling right about now, too.

  11. IamGumbyDammit 06/28/2011 at 11:23 AM #

    I was a freshman in ’83 and I recall that halfway through the season, all seemed lost. Whittenburg had a broken leg and we were losing. Then the ACC tournament, and everyone I know was suddenly superstitious. We watched every game at the SAME place, drank the SAME adult beverages during the game (and after – ugg! we got to the A&P on Western after the first ACC tourney game and all that was left was Boone’s Farm, but we drank it after every game!). The instant parties on Hillsborough St (eventually moved to the Brickyard) – what an amazing time.

    We were all crowded in the chapter room of the fraternity house (as we did every game) when it came down to Lo’s big dunk. We were both celebrating and stunned – did we ACTUALLY win? It took seeing who was hugging who in celebration to fully grasp what a miracle the Cardiac Pack accomplished. The Brickyard was absolutely PACKED with celebrating State fans. Best Freshman year ANYONE could have ever! (We won’t talk about the GPA…)

    Thank you Lorenzo Charles. Thank you indeed.

  12. ruffles31 06/28/2011 at 12:07 PM #

    Good article. Thanks for sharing. This is another good article, but from a national perspective.

  13. lawful 06/28/2011 at 12:16 PM #

    I’m sure we saw each other at Mitch’s, Gumby.

  14. Tuffy2 06/28/2011 at 12:26 PM #

    I never got Lorenzo’s autograph or knew him but when we ran into each other at a 7-11 years back and he asked me if I use to usher? I said yes! But I didn’t think you would remember something like that. He said I wouldn’t have remembered, but he said anyone that looks like coach, and we both started laughing.
    I use to throw the balls back to the guys when the balls would bounce off the court as I ushered under the basket, and had a great seat sitting on the cheerleaders pads.
    Im going to miss LO C 43. By the way that was his license number also.
    I must say all of those guys on that team grew up to be fine men. Something that you have to look long and hard to find today.

  15. TeufelWolf 06/28/2011 at 12:34 PM #

    @ ruffles31. Another great article. Thanks for posting that.

  16. nycfan 06/28/2011 at 12:41 PM #

    I watched that game at my grandfather’s house with my extended family. It’s funny, all of us were Carolina fans, but all the adults were actively pulling for State to win. My cousin and I were somewhat more conflicted, to be honest, and if Houston had trounced State I can’t say that I would have shed a tear. But the game was enthralling and the familial support of the ACC was infectious (something we’ve lost over the years since the glory years of the ACC), and a house full of Carolina fans went nuts celebrating when State won the game. Back then, if Carolina couldn’t win it, we wanted some one in the ACC to win. That pro-ACC bent soured and died with the increasing emphasis of NCAA tournament success over the ACC Tournament and conference success and the way the golden era of the ACC sputterd out in the late 80s and early 90s.

    Anyway, I still have Lo’s autograph in my 1984 ACC Handbook, on the photo of his iconic dunk in the Handbook’s spread of the ’83 title. I got it when he was one of the ACC Seniors on a post-season barnstorming tour of NC towns for an “all-star” game for local fans. Got to see him up close and in person that night as a player and as a kid who really engaged with the fans, and almost foregave him for his apparent diplomatic immunity from charging calls on every single one of his lean-in post shots … almost. :)

    RIP, Mr. Charles, you leave behind a legacy of splendid memories and good will not just from State fans but among all ACC and college hoops fans.

  17. golf76 06/28/2011 at 1:05 PM #

    We all remember being stunned – by the coaching job and the win. But no two people were more shocked than Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon. Neither they, nor the entire city of Houston, to this day, have come to terms with it. I lived in Houston for 15 years after that and never let them forget that game. Called in to KPRC SportsTalk once when they did a show asking people to call in with their “Best Moment in Sports History.” As soon as I mentioned that championship as THE best, the announcer came back with “Sure, you would have to bring that up.” All I had to say was, “Well you asked.” They all had to agree that it was a golden moment!

  18. blpack 06/28/2011 at 1:34 PM #

    I was heading to Orlando that night. It was a great trip, but I felt like I missed out a little in celebrating. Some friends from Raleigh brought me a t-shirt and bumper stickers the following weekend so I was plenty happy by then.

  19. Howler 06/28/2011 at 1:37 PM #

    My dad took me to the rally at Reynolds when the team returned home. I remember the excitement and noise with the “noisemeter” jumping up all the way. It is the single greatest memory I have of me and my father, and now that my dad is gone, it is sweeter still. Thanks Lo.

  20. lawful 06/28/2011 at 2:43 PM #

    Hate to bust your bubble on the noise meter but I snuck up there one night camping out for tix. It was nothing more than a board of light switches w/some predesigned piece of wood that you could move back and forth to flick the switches as you so desired. It was quite pathetic. Man, I miss Reynolds.

  21. bradleyb123 06/28/2011 at 2:59 PM #

    I thought it was common knowledge that the noisemeter was not actually a sound measuring device, but just a tool to get people pumped. I’ve been in Reynolds when the place was so loud I thought my ears might bleed. And that noisemeter was tantalizingly close to the top. People just got louder and louder and they finally gave it to us! If that thing was an actual measuring device, it would have topped out long before that.

  22. Six Pack 06/28/2011 at 3:09 PM #


    I have an almost identical story to yours. I was 7 and not in Orlando, but Charleston with my folks. My father is a very reserved guy, but I have never seen him react before or since to a game like I did that night. He told me not to yell (I hyperventilated after the UNLV win) or get too excited IF State actually pulled it off. Of course, I got made at him for even mentioning the idea before the final buzzer. When Lo slammed that final basket through, all three of us were stunned at first and I yelled into my pillow. My father jumped up and down screamin-n-howlerin like a wild man. He called the front desk of the hotel and demanded they put up a congrats sign on the marquee (they didn’t do it). The next day, my father and I wore State shirts and we were applauded in the lobby of the hotel (as if we had anything to do with the miracle in New Mexico) by a bunch of Clemson folks.

  23. wolfbuff 06/28/2011 at 3:29 PM #

    I remember every second of every game in that ACC and NCAA run. Highlights include a youth conference in Raleigh for the WF and UNC wins, back stage at a high school play practice for the UVa win, drove to town in a blizzard to a friend’s who had cable to watch the Pepperdine game, etc. Then how he owned Duke the next two years…

    RIP, Lorenzo. Just as the glass slipper fit in ’83, the golden halo fits in 2011.

  24. Howler 06/28/2011 at 4:09 PM #


    Regretfully, I did find out about the noise meter years later, but back in ’83, to a rabid 13 year old fan, it was pure magic.

    Those days were perfect. Eight teams, memorable coaches and great players. I used to buy an ACC preview magazine before every season and study the players. For some reason, I remember that in Lorenzo Charles’ freshman year, Wake had a freshman named “Sylvester” Charles. Now, I would be hard pressed to name all the coaches in the ACC, and there might be a couple of teams for which I would have trouble naming a single player.

  25. GAWolf 06/28/2011 at 4:24 PM #

    That’s a spectacular story. Truly awesome.

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