Q&A With Walter Davis

Thirty-one years ago today (March 2), Carolina faced Duke on Senior Day in Chapel Hill. Before the afternoon was over college basketball had recorded one of the most memorable – and miraculous – comebacks in the history of the game.

Trailing 86-78 with only 17 seconds remaining, the Tar Heels milked each second of the clock, played great defense and had a little luck setting the stage for freshman Walter Davis to bank in a desperation 28-foot jumper, tying the game and sending it to overtime where the Tar Heels ultimately prevailed.

Walter Davis is still a very active member of the Tar Heel family. A native of Pineville, N.C., he gets back to North Carolina whenever he can and always tries to get to Chapel Hill on the way. He is presently serving as an assistant coach under fellow Tar Heel Randy Wiel for Team Eiffel Towers in Nijmegen, Holland.

Walter is also the feature of the newest Tar Heel Moments print – "Eight Points, Seventeen Seconds." Inside Carolina's Mike McCracken, also the founder of Tar Heel Moments, shares this interview with Walter from a recent telephone conversation:

How did The Shot affect your career -- and life, for that matter -- and do people still ask you about it?

"It got my name out there. I was a freshman, and to hit a big shot like that against Duke was great. It was Bobby Jones' last game so we wanted to win that game for him and the other seniors as well. It was important to us for them to go out of Carmichael as winners in their last game. After that shot, I wasn't afraid to take big or clutch shot down at the end of the game.

"The last couple of years that I was scouting for the Washington Wizards and had the chance to go to the ACC Tournament and during one of those trips to the tournament I was fortunate enough to be named one of the ACC's top 50 players -- and a lot of folks asked me about it during the ceremony and afterwards. Most of them wanted to know if I meant to bank it -- I wasn't, I was going for a swish but I'll take it."

Besides that game, what are some of your most vivid game memories in your time at Carolina?

"I think of all the ACC tournaments, how intense [they were]. We thought the regular season was intense, but they turned it up a notch in the tournament. And, I think of the Final Four against Marquette… If we had stayed healthy, I believe we could have won the championship that season. "I suppose my most lasting memory isn't really one game - being taught how to play basketball the right way from Dean Smith and all my teammates really helped my pro career and my life."

What's it like to see yourself immortalized in a print like this? And what did you think of Phil's print - and could he really jump that high?

"When I first saw it I thought it was great. I was really honored to be part of one of the defining moments of Carolina basketball. I was touched and honored to be asked to participate in this print project, and I am very happy with how good it looks.

"When they sent me one of the prints of Phil Ford, I thought it was a great shot and a great print. I was sad I wasn't there to be with him in Chapel Hill when he made that shot. And yes, he really could jump that high." [laughing]

Have you found any Tar Heels in the Netherlands besides Coach Wiel?

"Actually, I saw a guy wearing a Carolina hat in Amsterdam recently. There's a guy here in Nijemen who is a sports writer who is a big Carolina fan. Derrick Phelps is here [on our team] he's been with us a few months."

What made you opt to head overseas and coach there?

"Randy needed an assistant; someone he trusted. I needed some experience. I had never coached before. I had run my camp for several years, but that's totally different from coaching. Randy teaches Coach Smith's system, so I'm familiar with it and believe in it. I think I can help teach the players and give them some knowledge."

How connected are you on a day-to-day basis with the Tar Heel family?

"We try to talk with Coach Smith once a week. We definitely keep up. We have a former Maryland player, Mike Mardesich, on our team in addition to Derrick Phelps. So we have been talking with him about the ACC and kept up with the Maryland-Carolina games. It's been fun for us so far."

What do you think about the current squad and their chances at postseason glory?

"It looks like they have only lost a few games and they are playing very well. I think they have a good chance in the postseason. You've got to be lucky, good, and healthy, but they've got a shot to do really well."


For more information about Walter's print, "Eight Points, Seventeen Seconds," or Phil Ford in "Victory on Senior Day," please visit www.tarheelmoments.com


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