. Sure, James Michael McAdoo left North Carolina after his junior year without any guarantee he would get drafted. But when Justin Jackson entered his name for the NBA draft and went through the NBA combine after last season, McAdoo hoped Jackson would choose a different path.
“I had an opportunity to talk to him, and I’m never going to tell a guy what to do, but I was rooting for him to come back because I knew what (UNC) could accomplish,” McAdoo said.
Jackson did return to the Tar Heels for his junior season, and McAdoo’s instinct came to fruition when UNC beat Gonzaga, 75-69, in the NCAA championship Monday night.
“They definitely have that feeling from last year still in their stomachs so hopefully they finish it out. Gonzaga’s a good team but I think they’ll be fine,” McAdoo, who went undrafted but is now in his third year with the Golden State Warriors, said before Monday’s game.
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The feeling of not being able to close out a title is one that McAdoo knows well. Last year the Warriors became the first team in NBA history to lose a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals, losing Game 7 at home in the final seconds.
“It’s been good to face a little adversity,” McAdoo said. “It’s been good for our team and it’s going to be good for us heading into the playoffs.”
McAdoo went to Houston for last year’s NCAA final as part of a large contingent of former Tar Heels, led by Michael Jordan, when UNC lost to Villanova at the buzzer. This year McAdoo checked the Warriors schedule before the NCAA tournament started, saw the Warriors were off on April 3, and made plans to fly to Arizona if the Tar Heels advanced to the title game again.
“I just like to go with my wife (former UNC volleyball player Lauren McAdoo), cheer the guys on, and be fans. It’s not very often I get to just be a fan,” said McAdoo, who played at UNC with seniors Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, Nate Britt and Stilman White. “Especially because this is the last group of guys that I played with. But you ask any Carolina guy, just the brotherhood that we have, we always want to support the guys.”
McAdoo had a chance to sign somewhere else this past offseason and likely get more playing time. But he chose to re-sign with Golden State and stay with a winning organization, even if meant minutes would be tough to come by.
After getting four minutes in the Warriors’ 139-115 win over Washington Sunday night, McAdoo has played in 46 of 77 games and is averaging 2.7 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.4 minutes.
“I made the decision to come back here and I love it here,” McAdoo said. “I love playing for Coach (Steve) Kerr. I love coming to work every day, getting to play with my teammates. Even though some days I don’t play, I can’t let those days affect me as a pro. I just have to be a professional, and I’ve prided myself on that the last three years – just always being ready and knowing what my role is, and when my number’s called, just go out there and have fun.”