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Top 10 North Carolina Basketball Legends: From Michael Jordan to Tyler Hansborough

Basketball is one of the most beloved and iconic sports in the United States of America, and few states have contributed to its history and culture as much as North Carolina. The Tar Heel State is home to some of the greatest basketball players in the history of the game, with a rich tradition of college basketball excellence and championship-winning franchises like the Charlotte Hornets and the Carolina Cougars.

In this article, we will take a deep dive into the history of North Carolina basketball and examine the top 10 players who have made an indelible mark on the game, both at the collegiate level and in the NBA. 1.

Michael Jordan:

There can be no doubt that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player to ever call North Carolina his home. The Wilmington native played three seasons for the UNC Tar Heels from 1981-84 and led the team to a national championship in 1982.

Jordan was named the NCAA College Player of the Year in 1984 and was selected as the third overall pick by the Chicago Bulls in the NBA draft that same year.

Jordan went on to have a legendary professional career, winning six NBA championships, earning five MVP awards, and becoming an international cultural icon.

He was also a key member of the US Men’s Olympic Basketball teams that won gold medals in 1984 and 1992. In recognition of his incredible achievements, Jordan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

2. James Worthy:

James Worthy was a star forward for the UNC Tar Heels from 1979-1982 and is widely regarded as one of the best college basketball players of his era.

He was a key member of the 1982 national championship team and was named ACC tournament MVP that same year. Worthy was selected as the first overall pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1982 NBA draft and enjoyed a long and successful professional career.

He won three NBA championships with the Lakers and was named an All-Star seven times. 3.

Tyler Hansborough:

Tyler Hansborough is one of the most beloved players in the history of UNC basketball. The Indiana native played for the Tar Heels from 2005-2009 and won a national championship in 2009.

He was named the National College Player of the Year in 2008 and was a four-time All-American. Hansborough remains the all-time leading scorer in UNC history and is widely regarded as one of the best post players in college basketball history.

4. Antawn Jamison:

Antawn Jamison was a standout player for the Tar Heels from 1995-1998 and was named the ACC Player of the Year in both 1997 and 1998.

He was a consensus First-Team All-American in 1998 and finished his college career as UNC’s all-time leading scorer. Jamison was selected as the fourth overall pick in the 1998 NBA draft by the Toronto Raptors and went on to have a long and successful professional career.

He was named an All-Star twice and won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2004. 5.

Lennie Rosenbluth:

Lennie Rosenbluth was a key member of the Tar Heels’ 1957 national championship team and was named the NCAA tournament’s Most Outstanding Player that same year. He was also a first-team All-American and led the Tar Heels in scoring for three consecutive seasons.

Rosenbluth was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1979. 6.

Charlie Scott:

Charlie Scott was the first Black athlete to receive an athletic scholarship from the University of North Carolina and is widely regarded as a pioneering figure in the history of college basketball. He was a star player for the Tar Heels from 1967-1970 and helped lead the team to two Final Four appearances.

Scott was also a key member of the US Men’s Olympic Basketball team that won a gold medal in 1968. 7.

Phil Ford:

Phil Ford played for the Tar Heels from 1974-1978 and was named the ACC Tournament MVP in 1976 and 1977. He was a consensus First-Team All-American in 1977 and finished his college career as UNC’s all-time leading scorer.

Ford was selected as the second overall pick in the 1978 NBA draft by the Kansas City Kings and was named the NBA Rookie of the Year that same year. 8.

Jerry Stackhouse:

Jerry Stackhouse played college basketball for the Tar Heels from 1993-1995 and was named the Sports Illustrated National Player of the Year in 1995. He was a First-Team All-American that same year and helped lead the Tar Heels to the Final Four.

Stackhouse was selected as the third overall pick in the 1995 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers and went on to have a long and successful professional career. 9.

Sam Perkins:

Sam Perkins played for the Tar Heels from 1980-1984 and was a key member of the national championship team in 1982. He was also a First-Team All-American in 1984 and finished his college career as UNC’s second all-time leading scorer.

Perkins was selected as the fourth overall pick in the 1984 NBA draft by the Dallas Mavericks and went on to play for several NBA teams over his 17-year career. 10.

Billy Cunningham:

Billy Cunningham played for the Tar Heels from 1962-1965 and was named the ACC Player of the Year in both 1964 and 1965. He led the Tar Heels to two Final Four appearances and finished his college career as the school’s all-time leading rebounder.

Cunningham was selected as the fifth overall pick in the 1965 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers and went on to win an NBA championship with the team in 1967. He was also inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1986.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, North Carolina has produced some of the greatest basketball players in the history of the game. From Michael Jordan to James Worthy to Tyler Hansborough, these talented athletes have left an indelible mark on the sport and continue to inspire generations of players and fans.

Whether on the collegiate level or in the NBA, these players have embodied the spirit of North Carolina basketball and have helped to make the Tar Heel State one of the preeminent basketball hotbeds in the world. 3.

James Worthy:

James Worthy is one of the greats of North Carolina basketball. Born in Gastonia, North Carolina, Worthy played at Ashbrook High School where he earned a scholarship to play for the UNC Tar Heels.

He played for the Tar Heels from 1979-1982 and played a significant role in winning the NCAA championship in 1982. During his time at UNC, Worthy averaged 15 points and 7.5 rebounds per game and demonstrated why he was one of the top prospects for the NBA draft.

Worthy’s career took off when he was selected with the first overall pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1982 NBA draft. During his tenure at the Lakers, he formed formidable partnerships with Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and helped the team win three NBA championships in 1985, 1987, and 1988.

He was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1988 NBA Finals, where he played an instrumental role in the Lakers’ victory over the Detroit Pistons. Worthy was known for his uncanny ability to play in big games.

In Game 7 of the 1988 NBA Finals, Worthy came through for the Lakers by scoring 36 points and grabbing 16 rebounds, earning him the series MVP and immortalizing him in Lakers’ lore. He retired from the NBA in 1994 and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.

4. Tyler Hansborough:

Tyler Hansborough, also known as “Psycho T,” is one of the greatest players in the history of UNC basketball.

Born in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, Hansborough attended Poplar Bluff High School before committing to the Tar Heels. During his collegiate career from 2005-2009, Hansborough was a dominant force on the court, winning numerous individual awards and leading UNC to a national championship in 2009.

He was named the ACC’s all-time leading scorer with 2,872 points, breaking J.J. Redick’s record. Hansborough’s college accomplishments include being a four-time All-American, the 2006 ACC Rookie of the Year, the 2008 ACC Player of the Year, the 2008 National College Player of the Year, and the 2008 and 2009 ACC Tournament MVP.

Hansborough remains one of only two players in ACC history, along with Tim Duncan, to record 2,500 points, 1,000 rebounds, 75 blocks, and 200 assists in a career. In the NBA, Hansborough was selected as the 13th overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft by the Indiana Pacers.

Hansborough played for the Pacers for four seasons, during which he averaged 8.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. In 2013, he signed with the Toronto Raptors for a year before moving to play for the Charlotte Hornets in 2014.

After his stint with the NBA, Hansborough played for the Guangzhou lions of the Chinese Basketball Association. He completed the 2016-2017 season with the team, averaging 21.8 points and 12.6 rebounds per game.

Hansborough’s career saw him named an ACC Legend in 2017, highlighting his contribution to the Tar Heel basketball program. His college and professional basketball careers have proven him to be one of the great basketball players to have come out of both North Carolina and the University of North Carolina.

5. Antawn Jamison:

Antawn Jamison is one of the most successful basketball players to come out of the University of North Carolina.

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Jamison played for Providence High School in North Carolina before committing to UNC. Jamison played for the Tar Heels from 1995-1998 and won numerous accolades during his college career, including being a two-time First-Team All-American and winning the ACC Player of the Year award in both 1997 and 1998.

After a successful college career, Jamison declared for the 1998 NBA draft and was selected as the fourth overall pick by the Toronto Raptors. He played for the Raptors for one season before being traded to the Golden State Warriors in 1999.

Jamison played for the Warriors from 1999-2003 and was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2004. He then went on to play for several other teams, including the Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers, and Dallas Mavericks.

Jamison retired from the NBA in 2014 after a 16-year professional career. Throughout his time in the NBA, Jamison put up staggering numbers, averaging 18.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

He was named an NBA All-Star twice, in 2005 and 2008, and was a member of the US Men’s Olympic Basketball team that won the gold medal in 2000. 6.

Lennie Rosenbluth:

Lennie Rosenbluth is a legendary basketball player who led the University of North Carolina to its first-ever national championship in 1957. Born in New York, Rosenbluth attended Franklin K Lane High School before committing to play for UNC.

During his time at UNC from 1954-1957, Rosenbluth was one of the most dominant players in college basketball, earning First-Team All-American honors in all three years he played and being named the national Player of the Year in 1957. In the 1956-57 season, Rosenbluth led UNC to an incredible 32-0 record, culminating in the national championship win against Wilt Chamberlain’s Kansas Jayhawks.

Rosenbluth was named the NCAA tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and finished his college career with 2,045 points, breaking the previous UNC record held by George Glamack. After college, Rosenbluth played for the Philadelphia Sphas, a touring team of Jewish basketball players.

He then played briefly with the Philadelphia Warriors and earned a spot on the NBA’s All-Rookie team in 1958. Rosenbluth was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in 1979 and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.

Following his stint in the NBA, Rosenbluth went on to become a successful businessman and entrepreneur, founding several companies and serving on the Board of Directors for the Basketball Hall of Fame. His legacy as a basketball legend has inspired countless players and fans all over North Carolina and around the world.

7. Charlie Scott:

Charlie Scott is an icon of North Carolina basketball and a pioneering figure in the integration of college athletics.

Born in Harlem, New York, Scott attended R.J. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem before committing to UNC. During his time at UNC from 1967-1970, Scott was a star player, earning All-American honors in all three years he played and leading the Tar Heels to two Final Four appearances.

In 1966, Scott became the first Black scholarship athlete to play basketball for UNC. Scott was a pivotal figure during UNC’s famous 1968-1969 basketball season, when the team went undefeated in the regular season and earned a spot in the Final Four.

In 1970, Scott was named the ACC Player of the Year before being drafted in the first round by the Boston Celtics. With the Celtics, Scott played under legendary coach Red Auerbach and won two NBA championships in 1973 and 1976.

He played for the Celtics until 1978 before retiring from professional basketball. In 2010, Scott was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Scott’s impact on UNC basketball and basketball in general transcends the court. His status as a trailblazer and role model for generations to come made him an integral part of the fabric of North Carolina basketball.

8. Phil Ford:

Phil Ford is one of the most beloved and accomplished players in UNC basketball history.

Born and raised in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Ford attended Rocky Mount Senior High School before committing to UNC. During his college career from 1974-1978, Ford won numerous accolades, including being named the ACC Tournament MVP in 1975 and 1977, being a three-time First-Team All-American, and receiving the Wooden Award in 1978.

Ford’s college career saw him set multiple records, including being UNC’s all-time leading scorer with 2,290 points. He was known for his unique combination of speed, ball-handling, and scoring ability, which earned him the nickname “The Little General.” After college, Ford was selected as the second overall pick in the 1978 NBA draft by the Kansas City Kings.

After retiring from the NBA after a shortened career due to injury, Ford became an assistant coach at UNC under Dean Smith, one of the most successful coaches in college basketball history. Ford helped guide UNC to two Final Four appearances and an NCAA national championship in 1993.

In 1998, he was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. Ford’s impact on UNC basketball extends beyond his on-court achievements.

His legacy as a leader, coach, mentor, and ambassador of the game has left an indelible mark on the UNC basketball program and basketball as a whole

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