As the two North Carolina basketball players picked up their mallets, there was another former Tar Heel there to greet them.
Joel Berry and Luke Maye, two members of the UNC basketall team that won the 2017 NCAA championship, were in attendance at Sunday’s Carolina Panthers game, but they weren’t there just as fans. They were part of the spectacle.
Berry and Maye were on the sidelines to beat the Panthers’ ‘Keep Pounding’ drum before kickoff – A'Ja Wilson and Tyasha Harris of the South Carolina women’s basketball team joined them –but first they had to say hello to Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers. Peppers played on both the football and basketball teams at UNC before being selected by the Panthers back in 2002.
“He just told us congrats,” Berry said. “Very cool to finally meet him.”
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For Berry and Maye, Sunday meant two totally different things. Berry was a New York Giants fan originally, and he said this was his first ever NFL game.
Maye, on the other hand, was practically raised in a Panthers jersey. His family hails from Charlotte, and Maye played at Hough High before opting to play for the Tar Heels. His family also has Panthers season tickets.
“It’s such a cool opportunity,” Maye said. “Lot of fun for us being out here.”
Eventually they got to hit the drum, making sure someone else got pictures and videos. Then they walked off the field, saluted the crowd one last time, and finally handed over their mallets.