It is undoubtedly fitting that NC State and Maryland will battle in this year’s Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball Tournament since today is the 35th anniversary of the unforgettable 1974 ACC Championship between the Wolfpack and the Terrapins in Greensboro Coliseum.
Today’s Charlotte Observer contained an article focusing on Tommy Burleson written by Ron Green, Jr. It is a nice piece that provides a little more insight into the Newland Needle.
Green has been kind about that 1974 Wolfpack, previously ranking that squad as the best team from the ACC to ever win a National Championship. (Link)
If you are now officially in nostalgia mode then you will also enjoy this one very much.
Then came in 1974 – and Raleigh became the epicenter of a story that would change college basketball. Duke was amazing in 1992, and North Carolina was phenomenal in ’82. But State was unique, in its talent and its time. The fading films and black and white photos still evoke an amazing team that remains the ACC’s best.
David Thompson, of course, was surreal. Everyone remembers his ability to leap and grab Monte Towe’s alley-oops, but when you see him on film again you’re stunned at how quickly and accurately he shoots. Give him a three-point line and a chance to dunk and he’d be unbelievable. He remains, hands down, the most talented player to grace an ACC court.
Thompson’s impact extended beyond the court. Polite and thoughtful, he was admired by whites still adjusting to watching blacks on their ACC teams. The love Thompson and his teammates shared was an important symbol in a society still learning to sit side by side.
UPDATE: come back later tonight, I will be posting some interview footage from that team that Jim Tacker did with Thompson, Towe and Burleson.