By Dan Wiederer with foreword by Bobby Frasor
“Blue Streak” excerpt: Cheating fate
So perhaps it should come as no surprise that the next afternoon, just a few hours before the game with Evansville, Hansbrough sat in the Smith Center player's lounge with one thing on his mind: winning.
The game against the Purple Aces? Nope.
That was still a few hours away. There were more urgent matters. And for now, the senior All-American was channeling all his Hansbrough-esque focus and all his Hansbrough-esque intensity toward winning on the team's Xbox 360.
"Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe" had become the video game du jour for the Heels, a fighting challenge pitting Mortal Kombat warriors like Kano and Kitana against characters from the DC Comics franchise - the Joker, Wonder Woman, the Green Lantern.
And surprisingly, it was an ebullient and cocky freshman - back-up point guard Larry Drew II - who was taking everyone to school.
(To be published in early 2010)
"Come on Larry," Hansbrough challenged. "Let me play you."
Drew could only roll his eyes.
Yes, he understood Hansbrough's place in the history books of North Carolina basketball. But video games weren't exactly Hansbrough's strong suit.
And so Drew had only one problem with the request. He didn't want to embarrass Hansbrough on his big day.
"Please Tyler," he said. "Don't try it. You don't want any of this today. You can't beat me."
"We'll see," Hansbrough demanded. "Seriously. Let me play you. We'll see."
Who was Drew to decline the soon-to-be all-time leading scorer in the history of North Carolina basketball?
If Hansbrough wanted to play, then Hansbrough could play. But Drew wasn't exactly intimidated.
"Take away ping pong and basketball," he said, "and I can beat Tyler at everything else. I have no doubts about that."
True to his word, Drew went right after Hansbrough on the Xbox. Not once. Not twice. But for five straight fights.
Hansbrough had no answer for Drew's combat moves with Sub-Zero.
"Sub-Zero freezes people," Drew said. "Who's going to have an answer for that? If you freeze, you can't move. And if you can't move, I'm right on top of you to beat you down."
Hansbrough had an equally difficult time trying to take down Drew as Scorpion.
"Look, man," Drew said. "Scorpion can fire this arrow-on-a-string and pull you right to him. If I can pull you right over to me, I'm right on top of you to beat you down."
"Not even Tyler Hansbrough can fight through that."
As a junior, scaling UNC-Asheville's 7-foot-8 giant Kenny George for a dunk didn't present too big of a challenge for Hansbrough. Dominating All-American Luke Harangody in Maui? Been there, done that.
But trying to defeat Larry Drew II as Sub-Zero? Now this was a challenge Hansbrough just couldn't conquer.
With each failure, the Tar Heels legend grew more enraged.
He is all about winning, remember. Which means when he loses, it's often an ugly sight.
After his fifth straight loss to Drew, Hansbrough gave up his spot on the couch. There were other challengers waiting.
"Who wants some of this?" Drew asked.
Inside, Hansbrough was stewing. He knew it was just a stupid video game. But he had been dominated by a freshman.
"You (bleeping) cheat, Larry," he insisted.
"Please!" Drew said with a smile.
"Seriously, you're a cheater. You do the same moves every time. It's so dumb. You're a cheater."
Drew's smug smirk only further fueled Hansbrough's irritation.
Drew beat Ed Davis next and Hansbrough snatched the controller and gave it to Ty Lawson. Drew beat Lawson and Hansbrough snatched the controller and gave it to Danny Green.
"Here," he'd say. "You beat Larry. Somebody has to beat him."
No one could.
"This is sad," Hansbrough shouted. "You're sad Larry. You have no life. All you do is play video games. That's pretty sad."
"It's fine Tyler," Drew smiled back. "It's OK that you suck at this."
Believe it or not, this whole routine went on for close to two hours - Drew dominating, Hansbrough growing angrier.
The Tar Heel players understood Hansbrough wasn't 100 percent serious. They knew part of him liked being the center of attention during his comical tantrums.
"He knows everyone is trying to get under his skin," Bobby Frasor said. "So he gives us what we want. But he can't necessarily control that either. Whenever he tried to downplay how mad he was getting, we knew better."
Added Drew: "Don't let anybody tell you that me beating Tyler down didn't aggravate him. He might have been joking with me a little bit for show. But he was honestly, truly pissed. You can always tell with him and that look in his eyes. If he was beating me, he would have acted like he was king of the world. But he couldn't take it being on the other side of such a beatdown."
And so as game time with Evansville approached on a historic night at the Smith Center, Tyler Hansbrough the winner rolled out to the floor for warm-ups as a pissed off loser.
"I guess I got that anger stirred up in him," Drew said with a noticeable sense of pride. "Maybe I should get an assist in that scoring record."