by Will Blythe
author of NY Times bestseller To Hate Like This Is To Be Happy Forever
Who is this Thad Williamson fellow? That is what I wondered when I first came across his elegant dispatches for Inside Carolina and its various forerunners, and then his remarkable book, More Than A Game.
Were we the unwitting brothers of the same parents? Had we been separated at birth, one of us brought up by wolves in a cave above the Yadkin River (me), one of us raised in a professorial household in Chapel Hill (Thad).
Although he had better seats at home games (that Thad had seats at all made his better than mine, which were located approximately four feet from the TV), Thad could have been me. Or, more to the point, us.
More Than A Game articulates with a historian's balance, breadth and precision why North Carolina fans of our generation -- a fortunate generation indeed -- love Carolina basketball. As Thad makes clear, it wasn't just that the Tar Heels won, though let's admit it, the winning didn't hurt. Even Saint Dean would admit that, smiling as mysteriously as the Mona Lisa.
But victory, sweet as Cheerwine though it might be, matters less than the way it is acquired. Let's not be shy about that. The beauty of classic Carolina basketball is that it has showed us all a workday model of ethics, of how to succeed without really lying, of how to share the wealth and deflect the credit outward. The title of Thad's book speaks that truth, needed now as much as ever: more than a game.