By Matt Norlander
He was why "they won it! ... On the dunk!"
Former North Carolina State star Lorenzo Charles was on the receiving end of Dereck Whittenburg's desperation heave at the end of the 1983 national title game. His deft dunk put the Wolfpack over the top of favored Houston, giving Jim Valvano and N.C. State the unexpected national championship.
Monday afternoon, Charles, 47, was killed in a bus accident in Raleigh, N.C. Charles was the driver of the bus, according to the Associated Press. There were no other injuries, as it was a one-vehicle accident.
"Elite Coach general manager Brad Jackson said Monday that Charles was driving a company bus on Interstate 40. Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue says the bus driver was killed and there were no passengers aboard," according to the report.
No other details from local police have emerged.
It's incredibly sad, and unfortunately makes Charles' life story all that much more interesting. He had a cup of coffee in the NBA after getting drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the second round in 1985. But he ended up finishing his pro career in Europe before retiring from basketball. Since then, what had he been doing with his life? Most recently, driving a bus for a transportation/limo company, clearly.
That detail adds a tinge of curiosity to this tragedy. The full story of Lorenzo Charles has yet to be told.
Here's the video we've all seen so many times, the improbable, unintentional connection between Whittenburg and Charles that capped off arguably the greatest run in NCAA tournament history.