The North Carolina-Duke basketball rivalry is one of those most storied in all of the sports. Literally separated by a mere ten miles, the two schools have produced not only some of the most memorable college basketball games ever played but the list of great players that came from Dean Dome and Cameron Indoor rival any program not named UCLA.
From legends like Michael Jordan and Grant Hill to folk heroes like Rasheed Wallace and Shane Battier, there is no shortage of jerseys and championship banners hanging from the rafters of each team’s respective stadium. And if you look at that picture of the Jordan jersey that hangs a pretty high 100 feet above the court of Dean Dome, you would think nobody would be crazy enough to “borrow” it for the sake of a prank.
In the summer of 1997, burglars stole a number of items from the Duke Hall of Fame, including three jerseys from Grant Hill, Christian Laettner, and Dick Groat.
In response, and to bother Tar Heel fans just for fun, four Duke students stole Michael Jordan’s jersey from the rafters of the Dean Dome on Feb. 2, 1998.
Tar Heel fans responded by stealing Duke’s Grant Hill jersey, but Duke was able to replace it.
The fans from Duke used belaying equipment in the middle of the night to pull off the stunt. They planned to tape over Jordan’s 23 with “33,” Hill’s number, and change the name from “Jordan” to “Hill” with tape as well.
However, the day of the Duke-UNC game—more than three weeks after the jersey had gone missing—the plan went awry. The students had hoped to reveal the jersey outside of Cameron right before the game, but a worker for Duke accidentally found the jersey by pulling the fishing line it was attached to.