We won last night.
You probably think I wrote that incorrectly. I didn’t.
We won last night. We won every night during this unforgettable season. We win every day of the week. We are currently winning. Right now. In this moment. While you read these words and breathe this breath.
Villanova fans are saying, “Scoreboard.” That’s fine. Let them. They’re right. The scoreboard and the media and the trophies and the history books will say they won on April 4, 2016 against the North Carolina Tar Heels to take home the national title.
But, funny thing. Despite the scoreboard and the media and the trophies and the history books: we still won last night.
We won because of Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, and Joel James – three scholarship seniors who gave us everything they could time and time again despite the adversity and the doubters.
We won because of the class, dedication, and sportsmanship demonstrated by our players all season and throughout their careers. If you’re unclear what I’m talking about, watch Paige’s post-game press conference and tell me he doesn’t embody everything you want to see in an athlete, a human, yourself.
We won because of Roy Williams, who unfailingly stood by and loved this team since day one. Who constantly refused to take the easy way out and avoid the media vultures (said as a journalism graduate) by retiring. Who tried to start six seniors during their last home game to uphold a tradition and pay them back. Who choked back tears as Marcus Paige thanked him for making him a better man.
We won because of that classic #SecondHalfPaige shot in the final seconds of the game to tie it up. That beautiful, magnificent, impossible shot that only Paige could bring to life. That shot that made us remember why we’ve believed in this 2016 season since we lost in 2012. That shot that gave us hope for overtime. That made us think once more, “Yes. THIS is our year! I knew it!” if only for a brief yet glorious moment.
Then there’s you and me. We won because of us too.
We won because we all love that little town on a hill, and a Carolina Blue sky no matter where it may be in the world, and those powder blue uniforms with the argyle piping. We won because our hearts swell when we hear the words “Born. Bred. Dead.” and our eyes go distant when “Carolina on My Mind” transitions into its chorus.
We won because it hurts. It hurt when free throws didn’t make it in, when Villanova broke us in transition, when officiating didn’t go our way, when layups didn’t drop, when plays didn’t work.
It hurt when that Villanova three went up at the buzzer. Because you knew it was in. You knew it was in. You knew it was over. You knew it was done.
That…that…we won’t go into that.
So yes, according to the scoreboard and the media and the trophies and the Villanova fans and the Carolina haters, we lost last night. Yes…according to all available and reasonable metrics, we lost last night.
But we didn’t. At least, not in matters outside of the final score.
We are part of a group of people who drove 17 hours to Houston, dropped nearly a grand on a plane ticket to Chapel Hill, shirked responsibilities to watch a game with friends, hugged crestfallen strangers wearing that NC logo because you understood each other’s pain. This same group of people woke up this morning heartbroken and immediately posted about how proud they are of this team, how grateful they are for this season, how, even today, it’s a #GDTBATH.
And you liked every post. Because you know. Because you agree. Because you are also a Tar Heel, and you want them to know that they are not alone in their heartache or their pride.
You know the people who do those things for each other? Who drive for days to see you, or spend money they don’t have to get to where you need them to be, or risk their success to help you with yours?
That’s why we won last night. That’s why we won all season. That’s why we win every day.
I’ll see you in October.