35 years ago to this day, Michael Jordan hit a shot that, for almost any other player, would be the biggest of his life. Of course, as we know, he’d have many more to come.
Long before he won six NBA championships and was a five-time MVP as a member of the Chicago Bulls, Jordan was getting his career started at the University of North Carolina. He spent three years playing under Dean Smith before becoming the third pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, winning a number of awards along the way like the ACC Freshman of the Year and being named a first-team All American on two occasions. But his most memorable moment as a Tar Heel came in the 1982 NCAA Championship game against the Patrick Ewing-led Georgetown Hoyas.
Facing a one point deficit with under 20 seconds remaining in the game, Jordan put the Tar Heels up for good with a 16-foot jump shot from the corner to give himself 16 points on the night. It was North Carolina’s first NCAA championship since 1957 and the first of Smith’s career following six previous trips to the Final Four. More importantly, as Jordan explained to Craig Sager when North Carolina returned to the NCAA Final in 2016, it also marked a turning point in his career.
“That was birth of Michael Jordan,” he said. “Before that, I was Mike Jordan. All of a sudden I make that shot and I’m Michael Jordan.”
Jordan has done pretty well for himself since that shot, and it will forever be remembered as one of the greatest moments in March Madness history.