Stars Shine Bright in Chapel Hill

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The former greats of Tar Heel lore descended upon the Smith Center on Friday night as North Carolina tipped off its centennial season of basketball in star-studded fashion with the school's Pro Alumni Game. A sellout crowd of 21,750 watched as the White team defeated the Blue team, 113-92.

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The highly-anticipated charity contest delivered rosters full of the program's biggest names in recent memory, including NBA All-Stars such as Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison and Jerry Stackhouse. Every current NBA player that is healthy made the trip to participate.

But the White's squad double-digit victory was only one part of Friday's showcase, which boasted Tar Heel legends that need no introduction – Dean Smith, Michael Jordan, George Karl, Phil Ford, Doug Moe and Bill Guthridge.

At halftime, the program unveiled the program's sixth national championship banner from April – the fifth NCAA title – with the 2009 squad on the floor. Nearly 30 minutes later, Jordan strolled out to midcourt and witnessed as his name was added to the school's Naismith Hall of Fame banner. The former Chicago Bull superstar will be inducted next week in Springfield, Mass.

The proceeds of the event went to the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center and the UNC Children's Hospital, highlighting the magnitude of this program.

"In my opinion, there's no place in the country that could have done what we just did," Roy Williams told reporters following the game. "… To have everybody that was eligible to play want to play was fantastic. It was just a wonderful atmosphere and to be able to honor Coach Smith like that and Coach Guthridge and Michael, it was a wonderful, wonderful night and I was very fortunate to be a part of it."

2005 wing Rashad McCants echoed his former coach's sentiments, pointing to one attribute that draws all Tar Heels back to Chapel Hill.

"Tradition – tradition is everything," McCants said. "You've got Coach Smith, you've got Larry Brown, you've got George Karl, Phil Ford, Antawn [Jamison] – the list goes on forever. So whenever you can bring all of those guys back, then you have a turnout like you did tonight."

Danny Green connected on 6-of-11 3-pointers en route to a game-high 22 points, leading the White team to an impressive victory that was never really close. Jamison contributed 21 points and joined Green in grabbing 11 rebounds. Marvin Williams (16 points), Jackie Manuel (15) and Brendan Haywood (11) also scored in double figures for the White squad.

Sean May drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer to notch a 21-point, 10-rebound effort for the Blue team, while Carter (18), Wayne Ellington (17) and Brandan Wright (10) also crossed the double-figure barrier for the losing squad.

Before the rosters were released earlier this week, there had been hope amongst the UNC fan base that this game would pit the '05 national championship team against the '09 edition, but Tyler Hansbrough's shin prevented the heavyweight battle from occurring.

Roy Williams indicated that the original plan called for the '05 and '09 players to remain intact while letting the player draft finish out the rosters, but with Hansbrough sidelined, that vision was shattered.

That didn't prevent bantering from taking place between the two title teams, however. During an organized dinner on Thursday night, the debate was just getting started when Ty Lawson stood up and asked, "Who's going to guard me?"

His '05 counterpart, Raymond Felton, responded by laughing hysterically and as McCants described, "Things picked up from there."

Be sure not to ask either team's members for an unbiased assessment.

"It's us by at least 12," 2005 forward Marvin Williams said. "Absolutely. We're tough. The '05 team was tougher than the '09 team. Don't get me wrong – they were talented. They could play. But our bench was a lot deeper and guys were tougher on our team."

With seven elite-level basketball recruits in attendance – led by Harrison Barnes, Scout.com's No. 1 overall player in the class of 2010 – this event served as convincing argument as to where UNC stands amongst its national peers.

"I hope to heck so," Williams replied when asked if he would be star struck as a recruit in this atmosphere. "We had a few of them here, so I hope that's the way it is. I would have been, but I would have been an easy recruit."

North Carolina will officially begin the 2009-10 season with "Late Night with Roy" on Oct. 16.

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