Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY Sports
Raleigh, NC-- The video that has now been seen around the world is not NC State beating Duke on Saturday, it's what happened after the game when fans rushed the floor.
USA Today has that story of a fan in a wheelchair who almost got trampled, until one of NC State's best player, C.J. Leslie stepped in.
Will Privette knew it was the "dumbest thing" he'd do in college, and he also knew it was probably actually pretty dangerous.
But he wasn't about to let his wheelchair get in the way of celebrating a big win. So he rushed -- rolled? -- the court along with his fellow North Carolina State students after the Wolfpack took down No. 1 Duke at home Saturday afternoon.
Dick Vitale expressed concern on the air about Privette's safety, and video and screenshots of Privette's wheelchair immediately went viral online. Privette started getting messages from friends telling him they saw him on TV. He searched "wheelchair" on Twitter and discovered that hundreds of people were talking about him, wondering if he was OK.
Here's a little background on Privette, the young man known on the Internet as the "wheelchair kid who rushed the court."
•Privette is from Zebulon, N.C., about 20 miles from Raleigh, and he's always been a big sports fan.
•He will graduate from N.C. State in May with a degree in communications and a minor in journalism.
•At State, he's also served as a statistical analyst for the Wolfpack baseball team.
•He was born with leg deformities, and he's been in a wheelchair his whole life.
•In high school, Privette played wheelchair basketball.
•He thinks he's missed just one home N.C. State men's basketball game during his college career. He plans to attend all of them this season. "I love it, I live for it," he said.
Privette spoke to USA TODAY Sports Saturday afternoon about rushing the court, his newfound celebrity and how N.C. State forward C.J. Leslie just might have saved his life:
USA TODAY Sports: Tell me everything -- from the decision to rush the court and what happened.
Privette: I rushed the court when we beat Duke back in 2010, and that time I waited for the first wave of people to go through so I wouldn't get crushed. That was my plan for this year as well. But the PNC staff and ushers who I knew were like, "Do you want to rush the court?" I said of course. So they said, "We'll put you on the baseline to go first." I said, "OK, cool." Then I happened to see Andy Walsh, our student body president. He said, "Hey, you want me to push you?" I said yes.
Andy and I waited the last 50 seconds of the game on the court in the corner. As the buzzer (went) or probably before, we rushed the court. We went straight to the middle, which probably was better because if we'd have gone to the side we would have gotten hit worse. We got right in the center, and as you can see in the video, I got hit from one side. It was like a wave. It toppled me over. I fell out of my wheelchair. I was on the ground, and I had my phone in my hand -- I was trying to film the event -- and the phone flew out of my hands and my glasses flew off my face. I was on the ground. I was like, "OK, what am I going to do now?"
C.J. Leslie was in the middle (of the crowd) and he saw me. I knew him from being around campus. He pushed everyone back and told everyone, "Get back, get back." Once everyone moved and realized what was going on, he picked me up and I've described it as like how you'd hold a baby. Once I realized I wasn't in trouble any more, I started to scream, like "Wooooo! Let's go!" C.J. held me for a little bit because we lost my wheelchair in the sea of people. He held me for a couple of minutes. I was screaming and yelling.
I patted him on the head and said, "Thank you." Then he put me in my chair, and the PNC Arena staff escorted me off the court to safety. After the game, I waited around for C.J. to say, "Thank you, thank you for helping -- saving my life, really."
It was the dumbest thing I've done in college but it was awesome.
USA TODAY Sports: Were you nervous about being in the first wave of the court-stormers?
Privette: Yeah, of course. I was like, "This more than likely is going to go really bad." But I think it was better than I thought. My phone does have a little crack in it from when I dropped it, but I didn't notice that until later. The back of my wheelchair kind of got, I guess, broken a little bit so I have to look into that. But I don't regret it at all.
USA TODAY Sports: You said you knew C.J. a little. Had you had a class together?
Privette: I'd see him around campus and Raleigh. I don't know if he knows my full name or anything, but he does recognize me whenever I see him or Lorenzo Brown. They always say "hey" to me.
USA TODAY Sports: When did you realize this whole thing was going viral?
Privette: It was crazy. I got up off the ground and went up the elevator and was going around the arena to go grab my friend who didn't rush the court. As it happened, I called my mom. I looked at my phone and I was getting Facebook messages, people saying they saw me. After that, I grabbed my friend and I was like, "I've got to get my phone fixed." That was the only thing I could think of. I went to the mall, and as I was going to the mall, people started texting me, calling and Facebooking. This is my fourth interview already. It's pretty awesome. I'm loving it. I'm glad this happened my senior year. It's a great way to go out.