About this time a year ago, we posed the question of why Roy Williams talks the way he does. The dadgums. The Jiminy Christmases. The blankety-blanks, and the other things that Williams often says.
The pursuit of the origin of such phrases led to a tale about how Williams prefers to communicate in his own, unique Roynacular. Williams' preferred communication methods became a topic, again, here on Saturday, the day before the Tar Heels' game against Kentucky in the South Regional championship.
At one point during UNC's press conference, in response to a question about whether the Tar Heels had managed to have some fun here in Memphis this week, Williams said that his players “can have fun in a phone booth.” His players beside him immediately began to laugh.
Maybe it was because they thought it was funny. Maybe they were laughing at another one of Williams' outdated references. There's a good chance, after all, that none of his players are too familiar with phone booths, which have essentially disappeared during the past 10 to 15 years.
That was just one example, a small one, of how Williams' cultural references remain stuck in time. Another one: last week, when the Tar Heels played first- and second-round NCAA tournament games in Greenville, S.C., Williams channeled Mr. Miyagi.
Well, Williams said he wished he could channel Mr. Miyagi, that is, and wave his arms to heal Joel Berry after he'd suffered his ankle injury. It was an appropriate reference, perhaps, given how Mr. Miyagi helped Daniel overcome his pain in The Karate Kid.
Even so, though, that movie debuted in 1984. It is 33 years old – more than a decade older than some of Williams' players, and there's a strong likelihood that at least some of them had never seen The Karate Kid, or ever heard of Mr. Miyagi.
Some of UNC's players on Saturday contemplated how they react to some of Williams' antiquated cultural references. Phone booths. Mr. Miyagi. What to make of those, and other things that Williams might say?
“There's a lot of them that we just say yes, sir and move on,” said Justin Jackson, the junior forward, “even though we might not know what's going on. But I guess that's just kind of the different times.”
It was then when Kennedy Meeks, the senior forward, interjected. He has spent four years now around Williams, and has likely heard it all. Meeks' assessment: “He's not of our day and age.”
Williams broke out in laughter then. So did Jackson. So did UNC's other four starters on the dais. They were laughing, partly, because of Meeks' comedic timing, but also because what Meeks said is what Williams often tells his players: That he's from a different time.
“That's an inside joke,” Williams said. “I tell them all the time, 'I am not of your generation,' and I like that. None of these guys have ever been in a phone booth.”
Unless they'd happened to walk into one in a museum. Or maybe somewhere in some old, forgotten corner of a city someplace.
Williams was probably right, though: His guys had probably never been inside of a phone booth. Maybe they didn't know who Mr. Miyagi is, either. Then again, there's a lot Williams doesn't know about the things they talk about – especially when it comes to technology.
“I don't know what the crap they're talking about,” Williams said. “I use my phone to call somebody and they call me. I don't use if for any of the other … you're talking about Instagram, I have no idea what you're talking about.
“It is a generational gap there, but we have one thing in common, and that is we're all willing to sacrifice for a common goal, and I love situations trying to get kids to make those sacrifices. And we all love to win.”
That they do, even if they don't always know what they're talking about.