141 games, 4360 minutes, 4 years of practice, and a lifetime of dedication left Tyler Hansbrough with a closet full of accolades. He was first team All-ACC 4 times, first team All-American 3 times, and the 2008 Player of the Year. The #1 scorer in ACC history? Yeah, he was that too. But there was one thing he wasn't.
A champion. Or so to speak.
It's hard to imagine he wasn't, because he played like one every night, in every sense of the word. Hansbrough was a man almost every non-Tar Heel fan loved to hate. He put everything he had into every play under any circumstance. And for some reason, he was hated for that. But to Carolina fans, he was beloved by all.
As a sports fan, there's nothing more I could ask for than to see my team win it all. But this year, come tournament time, I found myself thinking, this isn't about Carolina winning, it's about Tyler Hansbrough winning. He deserves this.
Million dollar contract? Nah, not yet. What's a few more years?
At the end of the 2006, 2007 and 2008 season, as a Carolina fan, the only thing on my mind was: Would Tyler stay or would he go?
Hansbrough stayed every time. His determination to win a championship for himself and his school always withstood the temptation of NBA contracts and cars. Could he have left his teammates behind, knowing full well he didn't get them what they deserved? Sure, Greg Oden did it. But Hansbrough? Are you kidding me? You obviously don't know this kid.
1 game, 34 min, everything he had left, no less desire than he played with the first time he put on a Carolina jersey.
Tyler Hansbrough is a champion.
A champion in our hearts with a trophy and a strand of nylon to prove it.
Hansbrough may still be ridiculed. Sure, enjoy it while you can, you'll never be good in the NBA. You're too small, you can't shoot. But when did criticism ever stop Hansbrough? Never. It only fueled his desire to prove everyone wrong.
2872 points. 1219 rebounds. 982 free throws made.
Hansbrough could have shot 0-22 from the field in the national championship, but I doubt one North Carolina fan would question his heart. Sure the Duke fans would get a laugh. But tell me they wouldn't take Hansbrough in a second.
Hansbrough put his blood, sweat, and tears (literally) into all 142 games of his memorable career at North Carolina.
Rather than thank him for bringing a championship home to North Carolina fans like myself, I think a congratulations is in order instead. We all knew you were a champion Tyler. We're just glad you got the hardware to prove it to yourself.
Something tells me he's got more to prove.
Image taken from Yahoo! Sports