“We’re excited to finally have a face on Franklin St.,” Stackhouse said. “For all of us that attended Carolina, Franklin St. is a memorable place.”
The building was formerly occupied by the Wicked Burrito and has been leased to the non-profit CPI group. Right now it's the old restaurant's decor with Carolina memorabilia on the walls, but longtime member of the Carolina hoops family -- and CPI president -- Angela Lee envisions it becoming a staple in the community.
“We will be able to have events here, things for the community, events for kids, events for adults and we’re looking forward to a lot of activities throughout the year. Jerry and the guys are playing ball here for a limited time but there are lots of Carolina pros in Chapel Hill throughout the year on an ongoing basis.”
Lee termed CPI’s existence in the building a “long term relationship” and noted that the Blue Heaven Basketball Museum -- the temporarily dormant tribute to the history of UNC hoops -- will set up exhibits and share the location later this year.
Former Tar Heel standout Bill Chamberlain was also on hand for the festivities.
"Angela Lee has been a dear friend for a lot of years,” Chamberlain said. “Fortunately,
Carolina basketball players have been coming back to Chapel Hill every
summer. I've come back every year since I graduated in 1972 - I believe
that's 33 years now. But I come back every year to work the Carolina
"I've stayed in contact with guys from teams who have come after me. I've
developed relationships with all the guys, and it's been a tremendous way
to give back to the community that supported us. Having a presence on
Franklin Street is just a dream come true.”
Chamberlain spoke to the importance of the bond between all Carolina basketball alumni, as was established by Dean Smith.
"That's the way Coach Smith set it up to begin with,” Chamberlain said. “When we had alumni
games in the past that were just [pick-up] alumni games, we came back with
many generations of players on the same team.
"The dedication game for the Smith Center - in 1986 I believe it was -
Michael Jordan and I were on the same team, Charlie Scott played, Sam
Perkins played, James Worthy played, everybody played. It was a lot of
fun. York Larese, Doug Moe, these guys dressed out, so we go back well
before my playing days, too. It's been a family. You've heard that term
used with this university's basketball program for years, and this is
another extension of the family."
The work of CPI culminates in the World’s Greatest Alumni Game in late August, in which dozens for former Tar Heels and other ACC stars host an exhibition at the Smith Center as well as other events for charity.
“We’re looking forward to the game the weekend of the 26th and we have a lot of new Carolina pros,” Stackhouse said. “Sean May, Raymond Felton – a lot of guys who were sitting in the stands last year and will get a chance to get out there and let us old guys take a little break.
Stackhouse beamed with pride when discussing the 2005 national championship team, especially considering the preseason talks he had with the players last summer. Jawad Williams, Sean May, Jackie Manuel and other members of the team have since noted the importance of those conversations with Stackhouse and other alumni.
“You just always want to offer advice to help,” Stackhouse said. “Things slid for a couple years, and Roy Williams coming in was huge for us, but always it’s amongst yourselves. I tried to tell Sean and those guys that they had to come together. You can’t force feed it – just spend time with each other away from the game and it makes your camaraderie and cohesiveness on the court a lot better. They took heed to it and won a championship.
“For myself, going to the Final Four and coming up short, it’s like a championship for all of us. It’s a victory for all our guys, we all feel a part of it.”
Melvin Scott and Jackie Manuel greet Jerry Stackhouse
Jerry Stackhouse talks to the media
214 W. Franklin Street has a new resident
(J.B. Cissell contributed to this article.)