The 2021 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Greensboro didn’t draw the usual number of out of town fans due to the pandemic, but the tournament did manage to bring a lot of very good publicity to Greensboro and the Greensboro Coliseum.
During the five-day event, at the coaches’ interviews, during interviews with fans, and in commentary from sports announcers, it became clear that there’s a large contingent of people who believe the ACC Tournament should be held in Greensboro every year – because, they argue, no other city or venue handles it as well.
For instance, during Duke’s prime-time victory over Louisville on Wednesday night, ESPN’s Jay Bilas went on an extended monologue about how Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski prefers for the tournament to be in Greensboro – and how Coach K believes it should be there every year. Bilas said that, over time, the ACC Tournament had become associated with Greensboro in the same way the Rose Bowl had become connected to Pasadena.
Bilas added, however, that when more teams were added and the footprint of the ACC broadened, there was increased pressure to move the tournament around.
Coach K has been a vocal proponent for years of keeping the tournament in Greensboro. He has spoken about the atmosphere of excitement that permeates the whole city when the tournament is in town, and he has commented on the professionalism and courtesy of the staff at the coliseum.
Years ago, Krzyzewski said that he likes the way the tournament “takes over the city” when it’s in Greensboro. The Duke coach said that, when the tournament is held in larger cities, it becomes just one of several big events going on there, and the feel is different.
Though University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Men’s Basketball Coach Roy Williams is a rival of Coach K, this is something the two men agree on.
In his pre-tournament interview this year, Williams also spoke fondly of playing in Greensboro and said the city is just “a great, great place.”
“I think Greensboro is the best place to play the tournament,” Williams said. “I’ve always felt that way. Everybody in town knows the game’s going on – everybody’s excited. We don’t need to have that discussion anymore about the media center of the world because everybody’s got a phone. And the funniest thing is, when we were in Brooklyn – and I’m not lying – we’re in Brooklyn and I come back in from doing our morning exercise; and the guy at the gate, at the front door, said, ‘Coach, how you doing? What are you in town for?’ I mean, we’re staying at his hotel. He didn’t even know the dadgum tournament was going on.”
Williams added, “I think Greensboro is the best place.”