When people talk about the 1983 Final Four, especially around the Triangle, the attention naturally goes to NC State and Jim Valvano’s brilliant championship run.
Much like Virginia in 2019, the Wolfpack had several very close shaves before getting to the Final Four. And they had a lucky break there: UNC’s Sam Perkins offended the Georgia team (we think he said that he wasn’t sure what conference Georgia was in or something like that) and the motivated Bulldogs took out UNC in the Eastern regional finals, 82-77. That spared NC State from playing the Tar Heels in the Final Four.
But in the semifinals, The Houston Cougars stunned the nation with an unprecedented aerial assault to beat Louisville, 94-81. The dunking was so epic at one point that even some of the Louisville players went to a courtside monitor to see a replay.
Phi Slama Jamma was the greatest show on earth - for a couple of days.
On Monday night, NC State kept Houston from dunking the ball at all and of course the enduring images from that Final Four were Lorenzo Charles dunking over Houston as time ran out to win the national championship, 54-52 and then Jim Valvano looking for someone to hug after the game ended.
But the Saturday dunkathon is still one of the greatest shows in basketball history. As Benny Anders, who had one of the great off-the-bench performances in Final Four history said “we took ‘em to the rack and we stuck ‘em.”
There’s no doubt about that.