College Basketball: Worthy replaces MJ as honorary UNC captain
SAN DIEGO ó The North Carolina Tar Heels have made the first substitution of the Carrier Classic, and it’s a doozy ó James Worthy for Michael Jordan.
Coach Roy Williams said Friday that Worthy will replace Jordan as the Tar Heels’ honorary captain for the Carrier Classic against Michigan State on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson on Nov. 11.
Williams said Jordan has a personal commitment he can’t get out of. The coach said he called Worthy on Friday to ask him to step in for the game on Veterans Day.
“It’s really important to us, really important to our players to have someone like Michael, and now James, that all of our players look up to so much,” Williams said in a phone interview. “His jersey is in the front row of the rafters, he was a national player of the year, won a national championship and was the No. 1 draft pick in the NBA.”
Worthy and Jordan led the Tar Heels to the 1982 NCAA title. Later that year, the Los Angeles Lakers made Worthy the top pick in the NBA draft.
Worthy’s former Lakers teammate, Magic Johnson, will be the Spartans’ honorary captain for the first NCAA hoops game on an active flat top. The game is a rematch of the 2009 national championship, won by UNC.
“I helped recruit James about 100 years ago when he was in high school,” joked Williams, who was a Tar Heels assistant under Dean Smith. “My relationship with him goes that far back, just like with Michael.”
The honorary captains will participate in a halftime program involving military personnel.
Also Friday, Mike Whalen, director of the Morale Entertainment Foundation, said Quicken Loans has signed as the title sponsor and made a $111,111 donation to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society in honor of the game’s date, 11-11-11.