Our Boys

I probably won’t be posting for the next few days, so before I go, here are the boys I am talking about whenever I say ‘Our Boys’

Raymond Felton- Six foot tall point guard. Carolina has a rich tradition of point guards, and Raymond, after only twenty some games, has already positioned himself as one of the five best to ever play for Carolina. It is possibly that he will become as great as Phil Ford or Ed Cota or Kenny Smith. He reminds me of my friends who succeed after much hard work is married to their talent, people that I can never seem to be close to but in whom I have enormous trust.

Damion Grant- Six Eleven Center. Damion is a monster who is crippled by two things, his knees and his total lack of basketball knowledge. Apparently, until about two years ago, he was a cricket player. He decided to stay in high school one extra year in order to get his SATs up to a respectable level. That level is reported to be in the low 1300s.

Jonathan Holmes- Six foot tall point guard. John is a senior and white, and has probably had to deal with a lot of jokes made about his name. He and Will Johnson are apparently real emotional leaders, and after what they have been through I can’t imagine that they aren’t both amazing men. Anyone out there who wants to hire the best man available for any job anywhere should find Jon Holmes and hire him.

Will Johnson- Six foot Eight forward. Will is also a senior and is playing basketball as a walk-on. He is on scholarship after all these years, but it is the coveted Morehead Scholarship. He has played in more games at UNC than any other player ever, and shoots and rebounds really well from the outside. He reminds me of my friend Seth, he is so lovely and so capable and so hard to be afraid of.

Jackie Manuel- Six foot five, listed as a 3. Almost absurd that he has a position defined by his offensive set when he should just be listed as a six foot five blanket with the reach of a 7 foot tall guy. Jackie is amazing. His heart and hustle remind me of the best of Joe Forte, but his obvious love for Carolina and for the team put him in a class all by himself. He is a monster on defense, in many ways the best defender Carolina has had in years including Haywood and Jamison. When you see him, you would swear he was 6 foot ten. He is like so many of my secondary friends, the guys who try so hard and laugh whether they succeed or fail.

Sean May- Six foot eight Center. May is an upended sofa of a man. He looks like a football player, but he moves like a ballerina. He has a broken foot, but the mere thought of his return, coupled with the fact that we have shown we can win without him, makes the rest of the ACC nervous. He loves the game so much that he is actually a favorite among those who hate Carolina (i.e. everyone who doesn’t love Carolina).

David Noel- six foot six small forward. Possibly one of the best things to happen to Tarheel fans in two years. He is paying his way to go to Carolina, and when McCants and May weren’t in a couple of games, Noel exploded. He is an athlete’s athlete, he’s like my friends who can act, direct, produce, even paint the frickin’ set. At this point next year, he will be devestating.

Byron Sanders- six foot nine power forward. He might be two seasons away from amazing, but against UVA, he showed Watson that he is capable of flashes of brilliance. Three times in a row he stopped the big man, two blocks and two rebounds. He is sweet and long faced. Watching him play is like listening to my friends sing, it is sometimes not so good but they match a lack of talent with a plethora of intensity.

Melvin Scott- shooting guard, six foot one. I loved this guy last year for being one of the few bright spots and for sharing a surname with my roommate. All last year we kept tabs on cousin Melvin and cousin Jawad. Melvin can be deadly from anywhere, an insane shooter who, unfortunately, sometimes meets shots he doesn’t like. I wouldn’t bet against him hitting it from anywhere on the court, but he’s complicated, going long stretches of hitting nothing. He’s like the girl friends I have, infuriating and gorgeous, a complete enigma but still someone you adore.

Jawad Williams- Six foot eight power forward. He reminds me of my sister. As soon as you think he’s down and out, he rebounds and is just amazing to watch. You can never count him out. He can do everything, and as soon as he does it all the time he will be a first round NBA pick. Plus, he carried on the Williams surname that has done the Tarheels proud for years.

Rashad McCants- Six foot four small forward. My favorite player in years. He is sort of a mess, but a phenomenally talented mess. I can’t help but identify with him. When he is on, he is amazing, and when he is off he hates himself and blames everyone and sulks. And everyone wants him to grow up, but I say, go ahead and sulk. He has an artist’s temperament in the body of an athlete. He can’t help himself. If he had gone one step in a different direction he would be a brilliant director or choreographer and no-one would know why he was drinking alone in the dressing room or why he treats the people in his life so badly. I have never seen anyone who hates to lose more, or who blames himself more for his failings at the same time as celebrating his successes. He is a whole person, complicated and brilliant, and everyone knows what they can do if they don’t like his shit.

These aren’t just basketball players, they are both people and symbols of people. They become stand-ins for me and the people I love, and when they play I watch them like I would watch my own friends and family. And the people we play against… they become worse than Saddam.

I know it’s unreasonable, but I have no choice. It just happens.