Former stars gather for Alumni Game

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – College basketball's leading family of alumni reunites in Chapel Hill this weekend to both reminisce and continue building its historic tradition.<br><br> -- <a href=http://northcarolina.theinsiders.com/2/288160.html>Jerry Stackhouse Q&A</a><br> -- <a href=http://northcarolina.theinsiders.com/2/288172.html>George Lynch Q&A</a><br> -- <a href=http://northcarolina.theinsiders.com/2/288178.html>Antawn Jamison Q&A</a>

The third Annual World's Greatest Alumni Game tips off Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at the Smith Center.

"We're really excited – it's growing by leaps and bounds – and we're excited for the real cause – it's for diabetes – and excited about all the former alumni of this great university coming back," said Jerry Stackhouse, the host of the event, at Friday afternoon's press conference.

The Carolina Pros squad will face a squad of former ACC standouts.

Coincidentally, the weekend also marks two significant career changes for former Tar Heel stars.

The biggest Carolina star of all, Phil Ford, is leaving Chapel Hill for an assistant coaching job with the NBA's Detroit Pistons.

"I'm looking forward to it, but at the same time it is sad to leave," he said. "But I do want to coach and this is a great opportunity for me."

After the conclusion of the alumni weekend, Ford will head to Motown.

"I'm supposed to be in Detroit right now, my kids start school on Monday, but we chose to stay here and fly up on Sunday because I didn't want to miss this," he said.

The other former Heel who is headed down a new career path is Rick Fox. The 13-year NBA veteran has retired and plans to pursue acting, and for those reasons and a few others, he will not attend the game this weekend.

"As we all know, Rick is going through a lot of changes right now," said King Rice, who co-founded the Carolina Pros organization with Fox. "One of the changes is that he's not going to be playing basketball … so he's going through that change and some other changes. He's becoming an actor now and he's not going to be able to make it for the weekend. He wanted me to say he's sorry he won't be able to attend this year."

Rice stole the show at the press conference with his jokes and anecdotes, but maintained the focus on the importance of the Carolina family, referencing many of the alumni in the room.

"I feel like I'm Walter [Davis]'s little brother, I feel like I'm Coach [Phil] Ford's little brother, Derrick [Phelps] and George [Lynch] and Brian [Reese]'s big brother," he said. "It really is a family. It means everything to me."

Though one important member of the family is noticeably absent for this year's event. Longtime academic advisor Burgess McSwain passed away in July.

"She helped us so much – so much …" Rice said, choking up. "Some guys don't want to admit [how much], but she helped all of us out a lot."

All the former players in the room raised their hands to recognize that McSwain had indeed provided vital academic help to them during their Carolina careers.

Stackhouse raised both hands, filling the room with laughter.


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