"It's amazing -- people come up and tell me Ford's Senior Day game was the greatest moment in their watching of Carolina basketball," said Mike McCracken, founder of Tar Heel Moments. "So many people came up to us and said ‘Thank you for doing this' and that's what really blew me away – not so much the big early sales, as the people who said ‘Thank you' and that really speaks to their love of Carolina basketball and their love of Phil Ford."
Only 2,290 prints have been made and signed by Ford, representing the total number of points he scored in a Tar Heel uniform. For more information on how to purchase one of these signed prints, go to www.tarheelmoments.com.
Q&A with Phil Ford
What's it like seeing yourself in a lithograph like this? Is it a first?
Yeah, it's a first. And I'm just honored that Tar Heel Moments would capture me on a portrait – in a very memorable game. I've enjoyed working with them through this whole process. …
It's quite an honor. When Mike came to me with the idea, first thing out of my mouth was ‘I don't think anybody will be interested in that.' But he talked me into it and it's been a lot of fun.
And you'll have the same role with the Rams Club this year?
Yes, I'm with the Rams Club still, and doing radio with Woody and Mick and doing some television with FOX. Just anxious for basketball season to get started. Everybody's excited, as you can tell from ‘Late Night with Roy.' That was unbelievable. The enthusiasm and just having to turn people away for midnight practice. I've never heard of anything like that.
Roy Williams said to the crowd Friday night that "We're going to do some things that Coach [Dean] Smith wouldn't do." What were your thoughts on that?
I think he was talking about ‘Late Night with Roy.' That's how I took the quote. The skits, the dances, the Dating Game and David Letterman stuff. I'm not sure if Coach Smith's teams would have done that stuff. I think that's what he was talking about. I definitely know Coach Smith wouldn't have been out there dancing. He raised the roof one time, but that's about as far as Coach goes. [laughing]
What type of interaction have you had with Roy Williams since he and his staff have arrived in Chapel Hill?
I've had a lot of interaction with Coach Williams and his staff. They've been very nice to me to allow me to attend some of the running and individual workouts and I've been able to meet some of the recruits they've had on campus. Last week we had a basketball pow-wow with Coach Smith, Coach Guthridge, Jeff Lebo, Tony Shaver was back in town and Barry Hinson was up here from Southwest Missouri State. They allowed me to attend that, so I've had a lot of interaction with Coach Williams. He's been gone a lot, with recruiting and his responsibilities with the Olympic team, but I don't think any college or high school player is going to hold that against a coach – being associated with the Olympic team. That's quite an honor to have your coach named to do those things.
This is home [for Roy], even though he was at Kansas for 15 years – he was so entrenched, I really believe that had he stayed in Kansas, had they built a new arena it'd have probably been named the Roy Williams Arena. That's how much he was loved out there. But he did decide to come back here and I think he's the perfect fit for Carolina basketball. I think he's going to do extremely well. He's arguably the best coach coaching basketball today. When you can throw Coach Williams' name in there with all the other great coaches that have been the best in their field, we're just honored to have him here as our coach.
Since you've been around the program and the players the last few years, has the new staff asked for your input at all with the team?
They are an experienced staff and they've dealt over the past 15 years with probably everything that they're going to deal with, with college kids today. So it's nothing new to them. They have an excellent track record and our players really want to be coached and they're all good people.
I'm not saying they haven't been coached the last few years, because I think Coach [Matt] Doherty and his staff did an excellent job. Coach Doherty and his staff were just put in a really tough position. It's hard to follow Coach Smith and Coach Guthridge. You're talking about two guys who have been in the game and been successful for as long as those two guys, it would be tough for anyone to follow them.
But our kids are really excited about Roy and his staff. I think, as I said before, they're going to do an excellent job. I do think the expectations are jumping off the page a little bit, but that's the program that Coach Smith and Coach Guthridge built. Expectations are always going to be high here.
Did you attend the team's first practices this weekend?
Yeah, I saw the practice Saturday. It was a very enthusiastic practice. Everything was timed to the minute – very intense. It reminded me a lot of Coach Smith's practices in that it was really intense, guys were listening, hustling and enthusiastic, paying attention when they weren't on the court, every minute was used, everything was planned out and ran just like clockwork. Coach Williams and his staff are doing an excellent job and everybody seems to be having a great time.
What are some of the other similarities you saw in practice that reminded you of Coach Smith's practices?
From the practice plan all the way to the defensive and offensive emphasis of the day, to the thought of the day, to the pre-practice stretching, individual shooting. A lot of the things that we did. If you were just looking at the practice plan, you would have thought that it could have been a Coach Guthridge or a Coach Smith practice – or a Coach Doherty practice as well.