Cunningham, Brennan and Kearns formed the heart of the 1957-58 Carolina team, and it was a good team, a nice team, and Brennan made first-string All-America and Kearns third, but there was no more magic. The Knicks drafted Brennan in the first round, tried to convert him to guard, waived him to Cincinnati, and then he got out. Kearns was drafted first by Syracuse, but he only played seven minutes in .one NBA game. He took one shot and made it: 2.0 ppg., 1.000 FG%, for all time.
Kearns didn't make the Nats because in his stead they decided to keep the unknown guard they had drafted on the second round. His name was Hal Greer. And that proved more of an indication of things to come than anything Carolina had done. The 1956-57 Tar Heels, it turned out, were more of a transition, a bridge. Before them, college basketball was a regional game, and after them, influenced by them, it went big-time, coast to coast. It was never the same again, although it didn't go in the direction that appeared so evident at the time. Soon there weren't that many guys crossing themselves at the free-throw line.
The white people, the Catholics and the Jews, moved to the suburbs, and black people started moving onto the courts in increasing numbers. Softball can't take you anyplace. The only basketball player to come out of North Carolina at that time and become a pro star was a guy from North Carolina Central named Sam Jones, whom nobody at the NCAAs had ever even heard of.
Give and go.
Although this too: Maybe the Noo Yawk boys did make it easier for those who followed. Maybe if a bunch of Catholics and a Jew can play for your Dixie alma mater, maybe that makes it more palatable to accept blacks. Certainly, that's a possibility.
But once the Tar Heel players understood it was over, all of them went on about their lives. For athletes using sports to scratch their way up then, college was itself something to achieve; it was not, as it has become, merely basic training for the pros. Of the 12 guys on the championship team's roster, all graduated from Chapel Hill, and six earned advanced degrees. "That may be more of an accomplishment than the 32-0," Brennan says.
Of the starters, he and Quigg, the two Brooklyn boys, stayed in Carolina. Quigg is a dentist in Fayetteville, Brennan is the designer of his own men's fashion line, Pinehurst Clothing, in Charlotte. The other three all returned to work in Carolina for a while before moving on. Rosenbluth teaches American history at Coral Gables (Fla.) High School, while coaching a basketball team at Deer-borne, a nearby private school. Kearns and Cunningham both live in the Connecticut suburbs of New York, where Cunningham is president of a trucking firm, Advanced Delivery Systems, Inc., and Kearns is a partner with Bear Stearns, a Wall Street brokerage.
Kearns married his Duke sweetheart; the other four all married Chapel Hill coeds. None is divorced; you see, Sonny James was right. After Pat McGuire died of cancer, Frank married a Carolina belle, too, only Jane McGuire comes from across the line, in the Palmetto State. In 1961 McGuire was enticed to leave Chapel Hill to coach Philadelphia in the NBA. His star was Chamberlain; it was under McGuire that Wilt averaged 50 and went for 100 in one game. But then McGuire came back South, taking the coaching job at the University of South Carolina, where he had some right good teams. Retired, he and Jane still live in Columbia, very near to where Frankie, now 30, is institutionalized. It's important not to forget that all of this happened on account of Frankie.
Wilt Chamberlain left the arena in Kansas City for the lonely walk back to his hotel, the old Muehlebach. Against what was now a light rain, he wore a little British driving cap. A small boy from Chapel Hill, who had flown out for the games, ran in circles around the big man, cruelly taunting him, chanting, "We wilted the Stilt, we wilted the Stilt," over and over. But Chamberlain didn't take the bait. He only looked ahead and kept on walking.