CHARLOTTE — Joel Berry has had his share of memorable moments during his standout basketball career at North Carolina.
He’s been the MVP of both the ACC and NCAA tournaments, his number hangs proudly from the Smith Center rafters and, of course, there’s that national championship he helped the Tar Heels win in Phoenix last April.
Friday, the senior guard added another line to his already impressive resume by scoring his 1,789th career point during UNC’s opening round NCAA Tournament victory against Lipscomb at Spectrum Center.
In doing so, Berry passed Michael Jordan for 13th place on UNC’s all-time scoring list.
Sure, it took him almost a full season more to do what the player many consider to be the greatest of all-time did. And unlike Jordan, he had the benefit of the 3-point shot for his entire career.
But that won’t make the impact any less satisfying when he shows off the Tar Heels record book to his future children somewhere down the road.
“I’ll just go, ‘Look me up on the scoring list and see who I passed,’” Berry said with a laugh.
Berry passed Jordan with a 3-pointer from the top of the circle with 16:25 remaining in the second half Friday. He finished the game with 14 points to run his career total to 1,792 points.
He also grabbed his 400th career rebound to join Walter Davis as the on UNC players with 1,700 points, 400 rebounds and 400 assists.
Although Berry is more focused on what he and his teammates can still do in this tournament rather than celebrating what he’s already accomplished, he is keenly aware of the significance his latest milestone holds.
“I’ve been here four years, he left in three years, so it was kind of expected,” Berry said. “We’ve played all the way to the end the past two seasons, so I’ve gotten a lot of chances to make a lot of baskets and score a lot of points. But at the same time, it’s definitely an honor to pass somebody like that. It’s a good accomplishment and something I’ll always remember.”
UNC coach Roy Williams, who got to see Jordan play in a Tar Heel uniform with his own eyes as an assistant to Dean Smith, said that while Berry’s name might come first on the school’s scoring list, there’s no real comparison between the two players.
“My gosh, 23 was pretty good,” Williams said. “But you’re still ahead of Michael Jordan in something. Lots of guys aren’t ahead of Michael Jordan in anything. I’m happy for Joel.”
No one was happier for Berry than his best friend and teammate Theo Pinson.
“I know that’s a blessing for Joel,” Pinson said. “Nobody would have said Joel Berry would ever do that. I’m proud of him. As hard as the dude works, he deserves stuff like that.”