Then, a series of extremely fortunate events happened. Which I firmly believe had a direct influence on Duke’s victory. I should mention upfront that I am really superstitious about sports. When “my” team is ahead and especially when it is coming from behind, I will not change anything about my current situation. I will not touch the websites that are open, I will not go to the bathroom, I will not eat, I will not change positions on the couch. I just keep doing whatever it is that I was doing when the tide first began to change. On the other hand, when “my” team is behind, I will stop talking to whoever I had been talking to earlier and I will constantly try to do different things to, I don’t know, influence karma or something. Writing this out now, I realize how crazy I sound. So just forget the last paragraph and know that I am somewhat superstitious.
One of my best friends from high school, we shall call her Jessica (because Jessica is her name), is a UNC grad and an insufferable supporter of the Tar Heels. She still lives near Chapel Hill, but last night, she happened to be driving back from our hometown of Wilmington. We normally text each other on UNC and Duke game nights to banter and talk trash. Last night, of course, I assumed that this would continue. Before the game started, however, Jessica texted me to say: “Just so u know I’m prob missing the 1st half bc I’m driving back from wilm. So no trash talking on shit I can’t watch!” I did not respond to this nonsense. First of all, who drives home on Duke-UNC game day? Who?! There is no good reason, no good reason at all. (Jessica: “I had to help my mom and grandpa”). Second of all, I detest lazy text-message abbreviations and she is fully aware of this. Right before the first half ended, I texted her – in an act of good sportsmanship, so please pat me on the back for it – that she would be thrilled, because Duke was playing terribly while UNC kicked ass. She responded right before the second half started to say that she had “just made it back a few min ago.” Again with the fucking abbreviations. She also said that if “duke starts winning she might have to get back in her car and drive around.” Down by 14, I was in no mood for jovial joshin’ around and whatnot. I was PISSED. I had also been waiting for dinner to be delivered for about an hour and I was starving. All-around bitchiness, for real. So I sort of just glared at my BlackBerry and wished that Jessica’s dog would get fat, which I knew would piss her off. I am mature.
Around this time, right as the second half started, I received a BBM from The Score Whisperer. You may ask, who is this mysterious Whisperer and what wisdom did she bestow upon you? To understand the extent of her powers, please know that she started the day by BBMing me “Happy Dule-NC Day!” That is not a typo on my behalf, but The Score Whisperer purposely alluding to the fact that the state of North Carolina would be fractured with civil war and infighting until around midnight. Or, her crystal ball was blurry. Or, the “K” is next to the “L” on her phone. I don’t know. I don’t question MAGIC. She knows everything, whether she knows it or not. So I will pass along her ingenuity and mental sparkle dust in the hope that it will educate others.
This was our conversation, which will also act as a second-half recap of sorts:
The Score Whisperer: I know you can't watch it live, but you are going to flip your shit for the way Fabio says "Jimmy Fallon!"
JHop: I am so so angry. But yes I look forward to that
JHop: Hmmm we hit a 3 as soon as you texted me
The Score Whisperer: Yep
The Score Whisperer: I noticed that
JHop: And then we forced a turnover
The Score Whisperer: I will watch periodically to keep Duke in the game
JHop: You will continue to communicate periodically
JHop: Yes. Thank you
The Score Whisperer: I had just switched over on a commercial
JHop: I like that we both used periodically
The Score Whisperer: Every time I change the channel, my boy Nolan scores
The Score Whisperer: CURRY saving Duke!!
JHop: I am too nervous to be witty or funny
JHop: God you ARE magic
The Score Whisperer: It's okay. Does it change your love of Fabio at all to know that he has never made a hamburger?
JHop: A little. I do love him though
The Score Whisperer: It might momentarily - and understandably - but! Every Other thing about him in this ep will make you go nuts with love
JHop: I'm hungry
JHop: Holy shit Seth Curry IS saving duke
The Score Whisperer: You're WELCOME
The Score Whisperer: I turned back just as they tied it up
JHop: If duke wins, you will be the title of my post tomorrow
The Score Whisperer: They will win. Start writing
The Score Whisperer: "The one thing Harrison Barnes need to work on is . . . Being Nolan Smith.” (Paraphrased)
JHop: I love when Coach K gets mad. Jesus! Seven minutes! So scary!
The Score Whisperer: He's soooooo ugly and scary-faced. He and the Brothers Plumlee belong in a fairy tale. As the villain and gentle ogres respectively. It would be called . . . The Ratman Cometh
JHop: I am in the elevator!!!! What is HAPPENING
The Score Whisperer: Um, I just turned back for Nolan shooting FTs
The Score Whisperer: He just sunk both, because I was watching
JHop: I am so cold but I refuse to turn on the heat
JHop: Or change any website. Or eat. Because I am a little superstitious
The Score Whisperer: Fair. But you could put on a sweatshirt. What the eff were you doing in the elevator during the game?
JHop: Getting my food!!! Which I thought would be here around halftime. Very inopportune time for food delivery. I took the food out of the bag. My mouth is literally watering. Noooooooo. I will not
The Score Whisperer: Well, what will happen if your stomach is now full
The Score Whisperer: (Aka, turn your fucking heat on)
JHop: Nope. Cant
The Score Whisperer: Top Chef is over, so I will stay watching and so they'll for sure win
The Score Whisperer: Don't like when the announcers call them The Plumlee Brothers. Needs to be The Brothers Plumlee
JHop: Wow huge no call there!
The Score Whisperer: I like the UNC coach's hair
The Score Whisperer: He'd be the princess of the fairytale I am writing
The Score Whisperer: "Can they force the ball into the hands of either Plumlee?" Hilarious (apt) strategy. This is where Sing shows whether he's clutch like Nolan or not
The Score Whisperer: I need Sing to get into a colored contact scene
The Score Whisperer: He's too light-eyed for his eyeball sockets
The Score Whisperer: Kyrie's so happy. He's presh
The Score Whisperer: CLUTCH!
The Score Whisperer: Travel, I thought
The Score Whisperer: Is this Vitale popping a gasket on the mic right now?
The Score Whisperer: The last minute of basketball games are both the most boring and most exciting
JHop: Wow it is so so loud there. I miss nights like this
The Score Whisperer: HELL YES, Boyfriend Nolan
The Score Whisperer: I am going to sleep, I have bought an avocado knife, I made it so Duke came back due to my strong love of comebacks and strategic watching, so I feel all-in-all? Successful day
JHop: Dinnnnnnner! A fucking plus
In the second half, everything clicked. We came out strong, cut the lead in half within minutes, hit huge threes, forced big turnovers, stepped up our defense, rebounded strongly, outscored Carolina 50-30, got Cameron rocking, and got back our swagger. With Kyrie Irving cheering him on, Nolan Smith had a huge night with 34 points (you can thank The Score Whisperer), while Harrison Barnes was mediocre at best and shot the ball poorly. Nail-bitingly close rivalry games with huge swings in momentum where your teams come out on top are the absolute best. And this was classic Duke-Carolina. The game was character building for both sides, and the March 5th rematch in the Dean Dome will be awesome. For now, though, let’s just live vicariously through the trashed college students who are lighting benches on fire and basking in the glow of victory like only trashed college students can. Good god, I wish I was there.
When the game was over and The Score Whisperer retired to her mansion treehouse, I finally texted Jessica to welcome her back to the Triangle. Her response: “Just so u know duke should have beaten unc by more. It’s a top 10 team. U still suck.” Mmmm, I love winning. Stay classy, Carolina. And please go to hell. Also, it hurts my face to smile this much.