North Carolina’s throwback uniforms could make a comeback soon if the players have their way about it.
The Tar Heels wore the uniform design of their 1982 national championship team in Saturday’s win over Wake Forest. They were one of seven schools, including Duke and Syracuse, that Nike chose to make replicas from the past.
“It’s cool to kind of pay homage to teams that came through … Jordan wore those,” sophomore guard Marcus Paige said. “It was cool. Nike always does a good job of giving us something cool year after year. I want to wear them again so hopefully we’ll get a chance.”
The success of one game can lead athletes to become superstitious. Leslie McDonald changed shoes before scoring a season-high 21 points in the win over Duke. He has pledged to wear those shoes until they wear out.
The Heels had what coach Roy Williams called their best shooting performance of the season in those uniforms against the Demon Deacons.
It could make for a meaningless yet interesting side note finishing out the year. In 2012, Louisville ended up keeping uniforms Adidas originally intended for one-game use and made it to the 2012 Final Four. They kept that same strategy in 2013 of changing uniforms in the postseason and won the national title.
There’s no telling if Carolina will get that much use out of the throwbacks, but sophomore J.P. Tokoto said they at least would lobby for more.
“I feel like we should wear them at least one more time,” Tokoto said. “We’re going to try to work with coach, see what he thinks about it. The whole team feels the same way, we just talked about it, everybody wants to do it again. We love the jerseys.”
Most of the players weren’t very familiar with the ’82 team itself. They did, for the most part, all remember seeing the replay of Michael Jordan as a freshman hitting the game-winning shot in the national championship win over Georgetown.
“It’s an honor just to be able to have that replica of those jerseys,” McDonald said.
Freshman center Kennedy Meeks liked the uniforms for practical reasons, adding that they were comfortable, light and the jerseys felt like a better fit. Meeks said he has never seen Jordan’s game-winning jumper, but he knew enough about history to get one thing straight.
“I don’t think the shorts were this big [in 1982],” Meeks said.
The length of the shorts is the one aspect of the throwbacks that the current Heels don’t want to be authentic. The current shorts look like capri pants compared to the Daisy Dukes of yesteryear.
“There’s no way,” Paige said. “I like the length of our shorts a little bit better. I’ll just leave it at that.”