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Before he walked back to the free-throw line, he promised everybody that he would make them both.
And he did. Swish. Swish. 54-53.
Not only that, but Quigg was also the one who batted away the last-ditch pass that was intended for Chamberlain in the low post. Kearns retrieved the ball with a couple seconds left, and after dribbling once, he heaved it away, high up in the air. It's so strange to see a game end that way, all the players looking straight up, half of them helplessly, half in exultation. And then the clock runs out, and all the Kansas players drop their eyes to the floor and walk off. All the Carolina players suddenly lower their heads, too—but not down, only around, finding one another, then running into each other's arms, 32-0, 33-0 if you count the McCrary Eagles.
In those medieval times—there were, for example, only four photographers at the game—the championship was played in an arena lacking proper locker-room facilities, so the players dressed in their hotels. Quigg remembers the odd sensation of winning the national title and then "just running through the streets of Kansas City, all by myself." The air was heavy with mist.
Back at their hotel, the Tar Heels sat around and sort of stared at each other, goofy with delight, "a good tired." Their bodies were only now beginning to comprehend what they had been asked to do the past two nights. Brennan, Cunningham and Kearns had played all 110 minutes. What with the governor there, McGuire quickly threw a victory party, and the tab for that affair came to $1,500, which was so extravagant,-the North Carolina athletic director thought, that he made McGuire spring for the Roquefort dressing, which had been a $58 extra. McGuire has never gotten over that.
But it was the only sour note. There was such a fuss made over the Tar Heels that the plane that brought them home the next day had to circle the Raleigh-Durham airport for some time until police could clear the runway of well-wishers. The whole state adored the team. On campus, fellow students would worshipfully ask the players for autographs. It was the spring of 1957, presumably a most innocent time. It was the good old days. It was the absolute peak year of the baby boom. Young Love, by Sonny James, topped the charts that month: "They say for every boy and girl/ There's just one love in this old world...." It was that kind of time, crew cuts and car coats, and, obviously, it would go on for ever and a day.
The next weekend some of the players went home. Brennan, the conquering hero, rushed over to Brooklyn from LaGuardia. His father was a subway motorman, and Pete was one of ten children. The Brennans lived in a two-family house, with the Cocoas next door. The hero dashed up the steps, just as Mrs. Cocoa was coming out. "Hey, Petey," she said, "when did you get back from the soivice?"
So it was, Brennan says, that his feet came back to earth. The others would follow him down. They had caught lightning in a bottle during that one season, but then the world became sane and cruel again. Quigg got hit the hardest of all. The reason those free throws were the last points he ever made was that the next fall he fractured his right leg in a practice session, and he has never even been able to straighten it properly since. And Rosenbluth. As great a shooter as he was, at 6'5", 170 pounds, he couldn't survive the grind in the NBA. They beat him into the ground, and he quit after two desultory seasons.