Mark the moment

When Julius Hodge collapsed to the floor at the end of the game on Sunday, he unknowingly put behind the last fifteen years of strife for NC State Basketball and its fans. Jules's tears also started a new era in Wolfpack Basketball.

By letting his emotions rain on the MCI floor, he achieved something that has not been possible since the darkest period in Wolfpack history began in the late eighties. Jules wept for all NC State basketball--and he might not have known it, but he marked the end of the darkness.

When someone cares about any loss so dearly that he mourns with tears, it has the power to heal. I am not talking about silly sobbing but tears that come from a true depth of feeling. When Julius Hodge dropped and hugged the floor in anguish, he did so for all Wolfpack fans.

NC State has not had time to heal as a community since Peter Golenbock spewed forth the lies that made up the book Personal Fouls and the News and Observer aggressively pursued Jim Valvano's resignation. Many in our community were forced to defend our program (and university) and to endure attacks by some media outlets and outside observers who reveled in watching what looked to be the demise of the NC State program.

If the attacks from the outside weren't enough, the last few years have also seen the NC State community in inner turmoil. The wear and tear of dismantling and rebuilding had taken its toll on many as they ferociously called for the resignation or removal of Herb Sendek as coach. Others who disagreed with this stance fought ferociously against those who advocated it. And it's hard to heal something as divided as our community was.

Through all the division, the sniping, and the onslaught by outside observers, many have tried to bring closure to the past. Jim Valvano resigned as did Les Robinson. Many have called for calm and patience. But all these measures seemed inadequate to heal the wounds we all had. Perhaps not enough time had passed to erase the pain that had fallen upon the Wolfpack faithful, or perhaps it would take more than time.

When Julius Hodge wept for NC State basketball after our close loss to UConn in the NCAA round of 32, he did so for all that have defended NC State for fifteen years. He did so for all that had grown tired of the yearly disappointments. He did so for all the NC State players of the last eleven years who had no chance to experience the NCAAs. He did so for Les Robinson and Jim Valvano. He also shed those tears for me, a fan.

All great moments in time can be marked by events. There was a great moment for NC State on Sunday. It was not the game. It was not a foul. It was not the hype of the NCAAs. The moment was when the past was divided from the future by a 19 year old kid from Harlem who wept for the NC State community.


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