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.