During the 2022 National Championship, UNC left it all on the court in a narrow 69-72 loss to the Kansas Jayhawks, and former Tar Heels couldn’t be prouder.
Although UNC lost what could have been their seventh National Championship title by a slim margin, everyone with ties to Chapel Hill agrees on this: the 2021-22 team played through an incredible tournament, and they should be proud of how they performed.
Former Tar Heels shared their thoughts on social media, with many former UNC basketball players offering words of comfort and wisdom in what was a heartbreaking loss for North Carolina.
The Tar Heels, who were up by 16 points at one point in the first half, went into halftime leading with 40-25 on the scoreboard. Kansas virtually flipped the second half in their favor, scoring 47 to 29 as UNC’s offense and defense faltered due to injury.
Still, viewers saw a team that outworked themselves to the point of puking, and it wasn’t lost on North Carolina alumni that this team possesses something special despite the loss.
Former UNC Tar Heels share sympathy, pride on social media
Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes was once a UNC Tar Heel himself, having a standout rookie season in 2010. Barnes was the ACC rookie of the year and scored 84 points in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, the most of any UNC freshman until that point. Barnes went on to win an NBA Championship with the Golden State Warriors in 2015, which is why when Barnes says that this team makes the Carolina family proud, it’s significant.
Former sharpshooter Justin Watts played alongside Barnes, winning the 2009 NCAA Championship the year before he arrived. Watts has played professional basketball all over the world, most recently in the Netherlands. Watts congratulated UNC for how they left it all on the floor, giving alumni quite the experience of seeing excellence at work.
Orlando Magic point guard Cole Anthony only spent a year at UNC, but playing basketball there shaped him before he entered the 2020 NBA Draft. Today, Anthony is happy to be a Tar Heel forever, congratulating this year’s warriors on a good fight.
Sterling Manley, a former Heels big man who just finished his first professional basketball contract with the Sichuan Blue Whales in China, reiterated that UNC has nothing to be said about—they still capped of a fantastic season overall.
Cameron Johnson, the power forward for the Phoenix Suns, plays on one of the nation’s best teams the way his brother, Puff Johnson, has been playing for the UNC Tar Heels. Cameron, who played for the Tar Heels himself from 2017 to 2019, said in an Instagram story that “proud is an understatement” when it came to his feelings on his younger brother’s team.
Former Tar Heels football players also shared their pride, with former Tar Heels linebacker turned country singer Chase Rice expressing his pride.
And North Carolina legend Julius Peppers, a former Tar Heels defensive end and forward who remains the only athlete to play in the Final Four and the Super Bowl, said that what UNC accomplished this year was “nothing short of amazing.”
Although championship losses are always difficult—just ask UNC’s Twitter account—having the admiration and support from former Heels greats at least reminds Tar Heels that this was a winning roster despite the score.