Although the movie "Hoosiers" earned Indiana amateur basketball fame and notoriety, Raleigh/Durham may deserve as much, if not more, round-ball recognition.
Four top-tier Universities are located amongst the area's rolling hills, dense forests, meandering golf courses, and expanding corporate parks. Duke, UNC, Wake Forest, and North Carolina State, all educate their undergrads within 50 miles of one another. And while each student body may drink its own special Kool-Aid brew (Gatorade may be more appropriate), the indoctrination is the same-partisan basketball! Especially during football season, as Duke and the gang are busy stacking up losses, students and alums get restless waiting for that first "jump ball". And can you blame them? All four universities boast storied collegiate basketball programs that often grace the top 10, win the NCAA March Tournament, and produce some of the NBA's most celebrated professionals.
We don't have enough room to list all of the high profile B-ball pros, but here are a few standouts:
UNC - Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Rasheed Wallace, Jerry Stackhouse, Vince Carter, Kenny Smith, and Bob McAdoo;
Duke - Grant Hill, Christian Laettner, J.J. Redick, Elton Brand, and Corey Maggette;
NC State - Vinny Del Negro, Tom Gugliotta, Nate McMillan, Lorenzo Charles, and Spud Webb;
Wake Forest , Tim Duncan, Muggsy Bogues, Rodney Rogers, and Josh Howard.
Now that's a list! And fortunately for athletic-minded travelers, Raleigh-Durham's list of athletic-minded venues and healthy options is just as long. Basketball may be #1 in locals' hearts, but those "tickers" are kept healthy and strong by an array of health clubs, lap pools, community centers, run/bike/hike trails, outdoor recreation areas, healthy restaurants, and sports retailers. The hotels haven't yet caught the fitness bug, but a few accommodations scheduled to open in 2007 will reverse the trend.
Note: With the NHL's Stanley Cup Champion Carolina Hurricanes recently making Raleigh-Durham home, professional hockey is becoming another spectator passion for locals. However, we hardly expect ice rinks to start replacing basketball courts around town.