WILMINGTON – To many, Walter Davis is Carolina basketball.
There have been names like Glamack, Rosenbluth, Cunningham, Miller, Scott, Ford, Kupchak, Wood, O'Koren, Worthy, Perkins, Jordan, Daugherty, Reid, Lynch, Fox, Davis (Hubert that is), Stackhouse, Wallace, Jamison, Carter and Williams (Shammond that is), but perhaps no one ever played Carolina basketball quite like Walter Davis.
Some will argue Davis is the most complete player in UNC history. During his four-year career he averaged 15.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game on teams that went a combined 98-23, won two ACC championships and advanced to the 1977 Final Four where they lost to Marquette in the national title game while Davis struggled with a broken thumb.
However, Davis might most be remembered for a 34-foot shot he nailed against UNC's bitter rivals in the greatest comeback in school history.
Trailing Duke by eight points with 17 seconds left in Carmichael Auditorium in 1974, the Heels trimmed six points from the lead before Davis hit the buzzer-beater as the clock expired tying the game - there was no three-point shot back then. The Heels won in overtime and Davis, a freshman that year, finished with 31 points.
Davis was one of four Tar Heel players (Phil Ford, Mitch Kupchak, Tommy LaGarde) to win a gold medal as members of the 1976 U.S. Olympic basketball team that was coached by Dean Smith.
As a professional Davis was named the 1978 NBA Rookie of the Year after being selected fifth overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 1977 draft and is considered the greatest Sun of all-time. During his 11-year career in Phoenix, Davis averaged 20.5 points per game and remains the team's all-time leading scorer with 15,666 points. His No. 6 jersey is also retired. Overall, Davis spent 15 years in the NBA.
Inside Carolina got a chance to catch up with Davis last week at the Washington Wizards training camp. Davis, whose nephew is former Tar Heel and current Wizard Hubert Davis, is a scout for Washington. His responsibilities include scouting college and lower level pro players in the U.S.
Here is a transcript from a chat with the one and only ‘Sweet D.'
On the cheers that former UNC players Brendan Haywood, Hubert Davis and Michael Jordan received as opposed to former Duke Blue Devil Christian Laettner, who mainly got booed.
"They sure did. He (Laettner) got some cheers, it was a little mixed there. It was good. The fans recognized the Carolina guys and gave them a nice ovation."
About the UNC feel on the Wizards with three former players on the roster and Davis himself working as a scout for the team.
"Mike's very loyal. With Hubert, and Brendan and Michael's happy to be back. I'm happy to be working with the Wizards to try and help turn this situation around to a more competitive team just like they used to be."
About whether he thought Hubert, who is entering his tenth season in the NBA, would ever make it this far as a basketball player.
"No. He's said so and everyone does that we never thought that he'd get a scholarship to Carolina and this is his tenth year going into the NBA and he's very happy and very lucky."
What are Hubert's strengths.
"I think he knows how to play the game. He's a pro, a professional about his job. He comes in camp in shape. Mike just wants him to be, they're gonna double team Mike he's gotta be able to kick it out for those assists and they gotta be able to knock down those shots. Hubert is capable of that."
Impressions of Brendan Haywood.
"Haywood's really good. He knows the plays and gets in the right spot. He doesn't turn the ball over. They just want him to rebound, get his man in deep, try to put a good move on him and score. He has a nice future in this league."
Andrew Jones is in his sixth year covering football and basketball for Inside Carolina. He also in his fourth year as a copy editor and staff writer for the Wilmington Star-News and hosts a nightly radio show on WAAV-AM980 in Wilmington. He has also written for ACCNews and once published The College Game and the former Total Sports. He can be reached via e-mail at: AJWAAV@aol.com.