March Madness: Remembering when Michael Jordan hit the title-winning shot for UNC in 1982
North Carolina trailed 62-61 in the 1982 NCAA National Championship Game with 32 seconds remaining, and the final shot was only going to one person: Michael Jordan. Even on a team that consisted of James Worthy, Sam Perkins and Matt Doherty, Jordan, a freshman, stepped into a jumper on the elbow with 17 seconds remaining full of confidence — and buried it. Moments later, Georgetown turned the ball over. Game over. UNC, your 1982 champions.
The sequence began a Hall of Fame’s worth of memorable moments for Jordan, who was named to the All-Tournament team for his heroics that year. Not only did he help clinch UNC’s second-ever national championship as a true freshman in an era where freshmen rarely made an impact, he was the poster child for defeating mighty Georgetown, a program that reached three Final Fours in the 1980s and would go on to win it all in 1984. In the title game, Jordan finished with 16 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists, and one clutch jumper that will live on in Tar Heels lore forever.
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Jordan also out-dueled another notable freshman in the title game in Georgetown star Patrick Ewing. Ewing was also named to the NCAA All-Tournament team after scoring 23 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, both team-highs. But Jordan hitting the shot and stealing the show was fate, setting in motion a career that many will regard as the best among any athlete … ever.
“That was the birth of Michael Jordan,” said Jordan in 2016 in an interview with Craig Sager. “Before then I was Mike Jordan. All of a sudden, I make that shot and I’m Michael Jordan. 3or me, it started my career.”