- The 1981-1982 North Carolina Tar Heels are one of the most legendary teams in college basketball history.
- The team boasted three NBA players, including one widely considered the greatest basketball player of all-time.
- While some of the players have stayed in basketball, others seemed to move on from the sport entirely.
The University of North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball team is one of the most prestigious programs in college basketball, with six national titles.
Of all of North Carolina’s title-winning teams, however, none may be more iconic than the 1982 National Championship team. Led by legendary coach Dean Smith, and with a roster boasting some of the greatest players ever – indeed, perhaps the greatest player ever – the ’82 Heels won a thrilling, down-to-the-wire contest against the Georgetown Hoyas to claim the title.
Below, we take a look at some of the key contributors to that team, as well as where they went after that iconic game.
Brandon Wiggins contributed to this report.
James Worthy was the top player on the 1982 team, winning the National Player of the Year and Final Four Most Outstanding Player awards that year.
Worthy went on to have a Hall of Fame NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, retiring in 1994 with career averages of 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. He currently works as a Lakers TV analyst.
Michael Jordan was a freshman on the 1982 Tar Heels team, and he played a pivotal role averaging 13.5 points per game. He also hit the game-winning shot against Georgetown in the title game.
Jordan went on to become widely regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time, winning six titles with the Chicago Bulls. After retiring in 1998 he returned to basketball first as an executive, then a player, for the Washington Wizards, before retiring for good in 2003. He is currently the owner of the Charlotte Hornets.
Sam Perkins was a sophomore and second-team All-American. He was the team’s second-leading scorer and leading rebounder, averaging 14 points and 7 boards per game.
Perkins would go on to the NBA in 1984 (drafted right behind Jordan). He played in the NBA for 17 years. Since retiring, he has worked in the Indiana Pacers front office, and continues to host a basketball camp in Chapel Hill.
Jimmy Black was the starting point guard and captain as a senior for the ’82 Tar Heels.
Source: New York Times
Black never made it to the NBA but did serve as an assistant coach for several schools and later authored a book about the 1982 UNC team. He remains an avid supporter of UNC basketball, and was on hand to help present the 2017 NCAA title rings to the team this past fall.
Matt Doherty was a starting forward as a sophomore on the ’82 team.
Doherty spent years as a college basketball head coach, including a stint as the head coach at North Carolina. In 2017, he was hired to be the associate commissioner for men’s basketball with the Atlantic 10 conference.
Source: Atlantic 10
Buzz Peterson was a freshman reserve guard on the team.
After his playing days ended, Peterson had several head coaching stints in college basketball at places like Appalachian State and Tennessee. He is now reunited with Jordan as the assistant GM of the Hornets.
Source: Charlotte Hornets
Cecil Exum was a sophomore reserve on the ’82 Heels.
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After graduating from UNC, he played basketball professionally in Australia. His son Dante was an NBA lottery pick in 2014.
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Jim Braddock (not the fighter) was a junior guard who came off the bench for the 1982 Tar Heels.
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— Baylor School Sports (@RaiderReCap) January 16, 2019
Braddock was drafted to the NBA, but never played. He eventually played overseas, then later coached high school basketball until 2009. He eventually opened up tax preparation stores and ran basketball camps.
Source: Chattanooga Free Times Press
Dean Smith had been the Tar Heels coach for over 20 years by 1982, but had not won a national title. He had, however, been one of the first coaches of a southern college to desegregate his college basketball program when he recruited Charlie Scott in 1967.
Smith would coach the Tar Heels until 1997, winning another title in 1993. He passed away following a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2015.
Roy Williams was an assistant coach on the 1982 Tar Heels team.
Williams became the head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks in 1988, and remained there until his return to North Carolina in 2003 to become the Tar Heels’ head coach. He has won three national championships with UNC.
Bill Guthridge was Dean Smith’s top assistant coach for the 1982 team, having first joined Smith’s staff in 1967.
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Guthridge would remain Smith’s assistant until 1997, when he became the Tar Heels head coach after the Smith retired. Guthridge would leave UNC to two Final Fours in three seasons before retiring himself in 2000. He passed away in 2015.
Source: UNC Athletics
Now, dive in and prepare yourself for this year’s tournament…
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