UNC freshman Michael Jordan stood out with his athleticism and was on his way to becoming a star in his first season with the Tar Heels. Then, in one of the biggest moments in the history of March Madness, Jordan saw his reputation take off to another level.
On this day 40 years ago, North Carolina went up against Patrick Ewing and the Georgetown Hoyas in the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The rosters featured future Hall of Famers Jordan, Ewing and James Worthy as well as NBA veterans Sleepy Floyd, Sam Perkins and Bill Martin. Jordan, Ewing, Worthy, Floyd and Perkins were first-round picks. Plus, UNC's Matt Doherty later coached his alma mater and Notre Dame. And Buzz Peterson coached Tennessee and is now Jordan's assistant general manager with the Charlotte Hornets.
With North Carolina trailing, Jordan made a midrange jumper from the wing with 16 seconds remaining to give the Tar Heels a 63-62 win and the national title.
Georgetown had the chance to retake the lead, but Fred Brown mistakenly passed the ball to Worthy.
The moment has built a reputation over the years.
"That was the birth of Michael Jordan. Before that, I was Mike Jordan," Jordan said.
Michael Jordan makes NCAA history with North Carolina
It was only the first year in which Michael Jordan played in a North Carolina jersey, but it ended on a high note. His game-winning jumper in the national championship game stamped Jordan as a rising star.
As a freshman, Jordan averaged 13.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game while shooting 53.4%. In the national championship game against Georgetown, he had 16 points, nine rebounds and two steals, while shooting 7-for-13.
Jordan played another two years for the Tar Heels before entering the NBA draft. As a sophomore, Jordan averaged 20.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 2.2 steals while shooting 53.5%, including 44.7% from 3-point range.
In an era when players usually spent at least three years in college before making the jump to the NBA, Jordan was one of the country's top players and looked like a potential NBA star. Little did the world know that the game-winning shot in the national championship game was the birth of a future NBA legend.
Jordan was drafted third in 1984 after the Houston Rockets selected Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon and the Portland Trail Blazers took Kentucky's Sam Bowie.