Behind the Scenes: McGuire’s Miracle, the documentary about the 1957 UNC Men’s Basketball Team | Chapel Hill, NC

Whew!  That recent game?  Has everybody feeling all the feels, doesn’t it?  I love the healthy rivalry, the fun side of trash talking, you know … before it gets too far?  I love the couples who are houses divided with wonderful teasing, great laughter, and fierce competition running through their veins.

I attended an event this weekend (more on that in next week’s blog post) where a new dad brought his sweet 4-month-old bebe to join the fun.  Cecil, a Carolina fan, pointed to the logo on his T-shirt and told this sweet baby that Carolina was the way to go. “Start ‘em young,” he said with a smile. His wife, Erma, was clearly not impressed by this rival team’s influence, and she came over to represent her Duke Blue. She may have also told this sweet baby not to get confused as to which was the better team. I laughed with both, as their joy was infectious.  The baby stared wide-eyed at all of us, possibly wondering what the fuss was all about. I have come to learn the rivalry between Carolina and Duke is fierce, and it can also be fun.

Men being interviewed

For a moment, let’s strip away shades of blue and talk about the people, the game, and the camaraderie that comes with playing, observing, and cheering on your team. A few years back, I was asked to photograph some stills for a documentary in the making. I was curious. What was the documentary about? Who are we photographing? What do the makers want to get out of this?  These are my typical inquiry questions to prepare for photographing an event.  I wrote down answers like where, when, and who. In the end, it was the why that stayed with me and encouraged me to pursue the opportunity.

Basketball players from the 1957 UNC Mens Basketball team sign a basketball at the Carolina Inn.

In the conference rooms at The Carolina Inn, five gentlemen were the focus of the interviews, as well as my photographs. I can tell you their names, and it’s their stories that I will carry with me for years to come.   This small group were the remaining team members of the undefeated 1957 UNC Men’s Basketball Team, which won the NCAA championship that year.  They were honored for their accomplishments at halftime during the UNC vs Michigan game that November in the photo below. From left to right:

  • Bob Young
  • Tony Radovich
  • Lennie Rosenbluth
  • Joe Quigg
  • Tommy Kearns

Clipping from magazine, showing former players on a basketball court with crowds around them

(Running onto that court at halftime, hearing the thunderous applause grow louder, and photographing these titans of their game – that’s a story for another time.)

Photographer badge for UNC vs Michigan game.

The stories they share in the newly released documentary “McGuire’s Miracle” is for every fan of Carolina and every resident of the state.

Business card for the documentary, McGuire's Miracle.

It is for everyone who has felt the power of a place and a sense of community.

1957 Team Players UNC Mens Basketball

Most of all, it is for everyone seeking a sense of belonging with those who wear the uniform and play the game.

Photo of the big win in 1957.

TOP: The team's photo after winning the game in 1957. BOTTOM: The remaining team members being honored at halftime. (c) Barbara Bell Photography

When I photograph these milestones, I am celebrating life. I am beyond grateful to have met these titans of the game and to have photographed them. It really is not about the wins or the losses, but how we choose to play the game. How this group played the game in 1957 put basketball in North Carolina on the map.  Isn’t that worth celebrating?

McGuire's Miracle the Documentary Cover

Order your copy of this moving documentary today. You’ll either fall in love with the 1957 UNC National Champion Tar Heels for the first time or all over again.  Did you know that in that game Joe Quigg, the 1957 UNC Forward who hit the two winning free throws in the National Championship game, knocked the ball away from Wilt Chamberlain at the end of the game?  Watch the documentary – it will make you fall in love with this team, the school, and the game. #GDTBATH


DVD of the documentary with note and Go Heels postcard



Barbara Bell Photography creates heirloom photographs to inspire families to share their memories near Chapel Hill, NC.