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  1. #1

    February 28, the greatest day ever (for old Dukies like me)

    It was "40 years ago today" that we saw Gene Banks ("Tinkerbell") and Kenny Dennard, in their senior game, upend the Tar Heels 66-65, in what some of us still call "THE GAME." I was just a freshman, but if there was ever a day the solidified Duke Blue in my heart, it was that day. Still, to me, the greatest day ever.

    "Dennard and Banks, so long and thanks" read the t-shirt. Thanks for the great memories still, guys.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aV1B2Bp0EIg

    https://www.nytimes.com/1981/03/01/s...ne-023575.html

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    New Bern, NC unless it's a home football game then I'm grilling on Devil's Alley
    I was a 10 year old kid in Cameron and almost missed the ending. I was so stressed out that I left my seat and went to the concourse. Ultimately and thankfully I decided to brave the ending, and watched the final play from the entrance to Section 13, Banks shooting the winner in front of us.

    I've watched lots of high stakes/stressful games since then, but that experience taught me a life long lesson that sometimes it's worth sticking around to see how dire times play out.
    Q "Why do you like Duke, you didn't even go there." A "Because my art school didn't have a basketball team."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Atlanta
    Quote Originally Posted by mitch84 View Post
    It was "40 years ago today" that we saw Gene Banks ("Tinkerbell") and Kenny Dennard, in their senior game, upend the Tar Heels 66-65, in what some of us still call "THE GAME." I was just a freshman, but if there was ever a day the solidified Duke Blue in my heart, it was that day. Still, to me, the greatest day ever.

    "Dennard and Banks, so long and thanks" read the t-shirt. Thanks for the great memories still, guys.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aV1B2Bp0EIg

    https://www.nytimes.com/1981/03/01/s...ne-023575.html
    Every time I see the clip of the Gene Banks shot I try to see myself on the front row of the ďend zoneĒ bleachers. Thatís where I was with my snare drum 🥁 in the band. But alas, I was just out of the frame.

    What a memory!

    And as I listen to the call, Billy Packer wanted so badly for that shot to be no good.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    As a 55 year season ticket holder, many of those with my Duke alum dad, I have seen hundreds and hundreds of games in the old gym, but this is still my favorite. After Geneís shot, it was the only time I have ever dropped to my knees at our seats in section 15 Row H and kissed the dirty, sticky Cameron floor. I was a 26 year old Duke sports nut. Now Iím a 66 year old Duke sports idiot.
    "This is the best of all possible worlds."
    Dr. Pangloss - Candide

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Happy to see others remember that game so fondly. That was also my senior year, and I recall I'd lost my voice well before the end of the game.

    Random memory of this game I probably shouldn't be too proud of - After standing in line for hours with my friends and fellow seniors to get in (this was pre-tenting days), I was turned away at the door after my wineskin (is that a thing anymore?) filled with bourbon was detected under my jacket. To me, this was devastating since I hadn't missed a game in 4 years and didn't intend to miss this one. I didn't want my trusty wineskin to miss the game either, so I found an open bathroom window and slipped the wineskin through. I then broke in line (and still feel guilty about that) and got in just before they closed down entry. Miraculously, I found my wineskin and was able to squeeze in on the bleachers with my friends to witness this epic game.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Long Beach, CA
    I was there too! I was a sophomore and I still talk about that finish. Somewhere Iíve got a framed photo from the Chronicle of Banks being carried off on the crowdís shoulders.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    If some of you were better liars, you would have claimed to have caught one of the 4 roses Gene threw to the crowd.
    "This is the best of all possible worlds."
    Dr. Pangloss - Candide

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Chapel Hill
    I was there as a senior in high school on a visit as I was contemplating where to go to college. I was at the other end in the end zone bleachers from the basket where Banks hit the shot. I remember the end of the game like it was yesterday. I went to high school in Virginia so was always an ACC basketball fan and starting to become a Duke fan. I guess the game sealed the deal and I ended up going to Duke. As I recall Springsteen had a concert in Greensboro that night (The River tour) so for many students it was a very memorable day. I recall the students blew up and held balloons at the game. What was the point of all the balloons?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia

    Money Game

    Funny story about that game . . . at least to me.

    I was in Atlanta watching the game with my visiting brother-in-law, who knew and cared nothing about basketball. Heels went out to a substantial lead. He observed my anxiety, started peppering me with questions about the two teams, their prospects and relative merits, and he seemed to be enjoying the fact that my alma mater was struggling and I was unhappy. Of course I informed him that Carolina was the superior team, expected to win the game, that Duke was struggling that season. That's when the phone rang. It was a college classmate of mine, who informed me that Duke had beaten Carolina. "What?" I screamed. "We won? How is that possible, I'm watching it right now!" Turns out the game was being shown in Atlanta on a delay of some kind.

    I returned to my seat in front of the television, reveling in the outcome of the most important game of every year. But my brother-in-law kept needling me about the Heels' dominance. That's when it hit me - despite my loud "We won?" and the remainder of one side of the telephone conversation, which had occurred literally within feet of where he sat, somehow it hadn't registered with him.

    He kept with the trash talk and ridicule. I gritted my teeth and endured his continuing barbs, but eventually could contain myself no longer. (I'm not proud of what next transpired.) "Okay, Jim, you see Carolina up by 12 (or 15 or whatever it was at that point), would you like to wager on the outcome?" At this point my relatively uninformed and cautious (but greedy) in-law began hesitantly re-asking some questions - "You say Carolina is one of the top ten teams nationally?" Check. "And Duke is having an off year?" Check. "And there's only ____ minutes of game time remaining?" Check. We set the terms of the wager.

    Carolina lengthened its lead. He was riding high. I offered to increase the bet. Thrifty and naturally cautious, he again hesitated, but greed won out. I won't deny however, as time dwindled down and our situation became dire, even knowing the outcome I was beginning to doubt myself. But when Banks hit the turnaround jumper from about half-court to send the game to overtime, it was clear that it was over except for the crying and gnashing of teeth.

    Some months, or perhaps years later, I owned up to the scam. It's been part of our family lore for many years, of course.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Santa Cruz CA
    A week or two after the game, a friend of mine got his pictures back from the developer and was surprised to find this shot on the roll.
    Apparently it's framed and on display at Duke somewhere.
    gene_shot.jpg

  11. #11
    Memories are a funny thing - for some reason, I always think that shot was right in front of me. I was actually sitting in the end zone near the Carolina bench so it wasn't in front of me. However, the memory of the stunned faces on and behind their bench sticks with me.

  12. #12
    Yea, I was at that game too and, undoubtedly, one of the great moments in Duke BB history. I was in my first year of law school at Duke and sitting in the "grad student" section up behind the opposite basket from where Gene made his shot. I still remember how the crowd went crazy after the ball swished through the basket and, fortunately, Duke didn't waste the shot by losing in overtime. A great time in my life and hard to believe it has been 40 years!!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Washington, DC area
    Quote Originally Posted by chrishoke View Post
    If some of you were better liars, you would have claimed to have caught one of the 4 roses Gene threw to the crowd.
    Tink handed my mom one! She didn't have to catch it.

    -jk

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by -jk View Post
    Tink handed my mom one! She didn't have to catch it.

    -jk
    Wow jk!

    Here's a highlight reel of the game produced by WRAL, to the tune "Hit Me With Your Best Shot."

    https://history.capitolbroadcasting...-vs-duke-1981/
    "This is the best of all possible worlds."
    Dr. Pangloss - Candide

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    I moved. Now 12 miles from Heaven, 13 from Hell
    Quote Originally Posted by chrishoke View Post
    Wow jk!

    Here's a highlight reel of the game produced by WRAL, to the tune "Hit Me With Your Best Shot."

    https://history.capitolbroadcasting...-vs-duke-1981/
    Nice find. Recognized a few of my classmates, including the one band member they showed (I was a few rows behind BandAlum83 anchoring the back of the band section so that "regular" students didn't encroach in our reserved area.)

    I do not recall Cameron ever being louder. (That's not just "we did it better in my day" talk; they changed the baffles during the '86 renovation and that modified the acoustics. That's also when the band moved from the Duke end zone to the visitor's end zone.) It was so loud, we played through Devil With the Blue Dress three times, instead of the then normal twice. We didn't care.

    Also miss some of those that are no longer with us. Coach Foster and Tommy Emma, along with Coaches Smith and Guthridge on the other bench. And always, EK.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by chrishoke View Post
    Wow jk!

    Here's a highlight reel of the game produced by WRAL, to the tune "Hit Me With Your Best Shot."

    https://history.capitolbroadcasting...-vs-duke-1981/
    When the shot went in it was the loudest spontaneous noise I have ever heard in Cameron. Archival game film is an interesting story. The official photographer, the one who sat in the suspended chair above the crowd in the old arrangement, was Thad Sparks who had been taking campus pictures for years. He kind of "marched to his own drum" as his responsibility was increasing tremendously due to increased demand for illustrations across campus. As my family reached our car after the game in the Divinity School parking lot where an Engineering building now sits, there was Thad getting his photographic equipment out of his trunk. He was quite shocked when we told him the game was over and we had won in a dramatic upset. He thought our game was the second of a TV doubleheader and was just arriving to cover the big senior day.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by chrishoke View Post
    Wow jk!

    Here's a highlight reel of the game produced by WRAL, to the tune "Hit Me With Your Best Shot."

    https://history.capitolbroadcasting...-vs-duke-1981/
    Thanks for the link! Great fun to watch. Sort of scary how young both Dean and K looked, back then.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    New Bern, NC unless it's a home football game then I'm grilling on Devil's Alley
    Quote Originally Posted by chrishoke View Post
    Wow jk!

    Here's a highlight reel of the game produced by WRAL, to the tune "Hit Me With Your Best Shot."

    https://history.capitolbroadcasting...-vs-duke-1981/
    Can't spork, but that was a great vid!
    Q "Why do you like Duke, you didn't even go there." A "Because my art school didn't have a basketball team."

  19. #19

    In your face...

    I've always cherished this photo I took (I was one of the last ones to get into Cameron) of Tommy Emma doing his best in-your-face work on Sam Perkins. The bucket was good, by the way.

    EmmaFaceJobOnPerkins400wx511h.jpg

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Wilmington
    Later, after the game, I heard an interview with Kenny Dennard,, he was awesome lol. They asked him to describe the play..

    He said. " I faked to throw it down in the corner, Carolina always fall for fakes, then hit Gene , who was open in the middle " .

    That man understood the rivalry .

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