- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 25, 2007

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It has been 25 years since North Carolina snuffed a little of Georgetown’s collective soul at the Superdome.

The sequence of events that night has been forever seared into the nation’s sports conscious: Jordan’s jumper … Brown’s blunder … Big John’s bearhug … Dean’s deliverance.

“I remember everything about it,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III — then a junior in high school — said of watching one of his father’s painfully defining moments from opposite the Georgetown bench. “It was a tough game. … I just remember thinking that you never know whether you’re going to get to that point again.”

Given that today’s regional final features the same storied programs and an amazing number of related principals (Thompson and Roy Williams on the sidelines and a Ewing on the floor), memories of that 63-62 title-game triumph were the hottest topic yesterday at the Meadowlands.

“You guys are really playing this rematch up really big. I thought it was this year’s teams: North Carolina against Georgetown,” said Williams, then an assistant under Dean Smith, before recounting some moments in the North Carolina huddle immediately before Michael Jordan’s unforgettable 18-footer from the left wing.

“As the guys were leaving the huddle, Coach patted Michael on the butt and said, ‘If you get the shot, knock it in.’ … Then the Lord told Freddy [Brown] to throw it to James [Worthy], and that was it.”

Rarely has a coach been celebrated in defeat like John Thompson Jr. was for his immediate and obvious compassion for Brown, who inexplicably tossed his chance to steal Jordan’s thunder to Worthy with less than eight seconds left on the clock.

“I was just worried about the kid, and how he would handle the whole thing because I knew then it was going to follow him forever, and it has,” the elder Thompson said yesterday. “I just hugged the boy and told him he had won plenty of games for us in the same situation. …

“But that game is irrelevant in terms of what happens [tonight]. Honestly, I don’t think about it at all and wouldn’t think about it, but you guys keep bringing it up. Just like if you brought up Christmas, I’d think about Santa Claus.”

In fact, not a single player on either current roster was born at the time of the 1982 final, though Georgetown’s Jeff Green did introduce his own piece of irony to the matchup.

“How about our uniforms?” mused Green, pointing to Georgetown’s Jordan Signature apparel. “He’s a North Carolina player and the guy who beat Georgetown in ‘82, and we’re wearing his gear. That is kind of weird.”

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