And what better way to celebrate that legendary team and season, than honoring one of the many stars of that team – Gastonia native James Worthy! During the month of December, a special exhibit dedicated to "Big Games James" will be on display for visitors to Blue Heaven.
Here's a preview:
JAMES WORTHY, Power Personified In al
l of Carolina's storied basketball history, one player in particular defined and personified the position of "power forward"…James Worthy. As a freshman from Gastonia, NC, Worthy listed Dr. J as the athlete he most admired. The choice was most appropriate. He would be only the third player in Carolina Basketball history to start as a freshman, but would come face to face with personal crisis in the 14th game of the 1979-80 season. Like a thoroughbred that had gone lame, he was on a breakaway when he pulled up with a broken leg.
Over the next 2½ seasons, that would be about the only thing to stop him. As a sophomore, Worthy averaged 14.2 points and 8.4 boards, contributing mightily to a team that won the ACC Tournament, NCAA West Regional and made it all the way to NCAA Finals in 1981.
It would be his junior year, however, when his agility and power showed itself most prominently. He could lead the break. He could slash to the basket. And oh, how he could possess an attitude of "I have the ‘rock' and I'm going over or through you to score." This talent and fire complemented the 1981-82 team, giving it a chemistry that would reap championships. When postseason came, Worthy's intensity kicked into a new gear, which would eventually earn him the nickname "Big Game James."
He was the MVP of the ACC Tournament and the NCAA East Regional. In the first game of the Final Four in New Orleans, Worthy went 7 of 10 from the floor and helped to ground Houston's Phi Slamma Jamma. It was a solid performance, but was nothing to what was to come.
Like all champions, James Worthy saved his best for last. Against Georgetown's intimidation, he gave back as good, if not better, as he received. He went inside with power moves that were punctuated with thunder, made 13 of 17 from the floor and scored a career-high 28 points in the 63-62 win for the National Championship. For his efforts, Worthy was named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player, making him the only Carolina player to sweep MVP honors of every post-season tournament that year. He was named consensus All-America and was selected co-National Player of the Year by the Helm's Foundation. The laurels continued after the 1982 season as Worthy won the McKevlin Award honoring him as the ACC Athlete-of-the-Year.
After the National Championship season, he conferred with Coach Smith and decided to forego his final year of collegiate eligibility. While on the floor in a Carolina uniform, Worthy and his teammates were a remarkable 71-13. His place in Carolina history secured, the Los Angeles Lakers made him the #1 overall pick in the 1982 NBA draft.
A complete player and a complete student/athlete, Worthy would return during the off-season to complete his degree in Recreation Administration. Today, he lives in the Los Angeles area and serves as a basketball analyst for several networks.
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From the peach basket to the slam dunk, the ‘Father of Basketball' to the ‘Dean of Coaches'; from UNC legends Lennie Rosenbluth, Phil Ford, and Michael Jordan to current superstars Jerry Stackhouse, Antawn Jamison, and Vince Carter, ‘Nothing Could Be Finer' than a visit to THE BLUE HEAVEN BASKETBALL MUSEUM!
"HEELS HOOPS HISTORY IN THE MAKING!"
For more information, please contact David Daly at 919.929.5877, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or log onto www.blueheavenmuseum.com