‘Jack, what are you doing?’ A UNC pickup game, Barack Obama, and the walk-on who wouldn’t slow down

Danny Green understood the Dean E. Smith Center like this. At least he thought he did.

The roaring crowd, overruning down the rows of light blue seats. The method they cheered and came together, a collective crescendo. He was used to all eyes being trained on the court– where usually he and his teammates on the North Carolina males’s basketball group would be playing.

April 28, 2008, however, was not normal. For as soon as, 18,000 people had flooded the arena not for a game of basketball, but to hear a Black man, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama from Illinois, give his pitch for the presidency in advance of the North Carolina Democratic primary. Here he was, in the flesh, speaking to countless college trainees. And in the Smith Center that night, Obama was clearly on the verge. Giant signs drifted in the crowd, substantial posters were curtained from the upper deck: Chapel Hill for Change. Sam Perkins, among the stars of Dean Smith’s very first nationwide champion team, presented the …