Today is a sad day for men’s college hoops. Dean Smith, the fearless, warm-hearted former head coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels, has passed away, leaving behind one of the greatest legacies in the world of sports.
In a time when segregation was a way of life in the Deep South, Smith took a controversial stand by offering a scholarship to shooting guard Charlie Scott, becoming the Branch Rickey of basketball.
He cared immensely about his players, who he mentored for over 40 years, but he also cared deeply about social issues and never backed down from his broad-minded political beliefs.
Everyone who knew Smith respected him, and for those who were fortunate to play under him, they will be forever grateful for the mentoring gifts he so lovingly gave out year, after year, after year.
Along with his 2 national titles, 13 ACC Tournament titles, and Olympic gold medal, he was named ACC Coach of the year 8 times. But the accomplishment he was the most proud of was that he graduated 96% of his players, which was a testament to how powerful his influence was on their young privileged lives.
When it comes to men’s college basketball coaches, Dean Smith will be dearly remembered for taking the Tar Heels to many sweet sixteen parties; on numerous dates with the elite eight, court-side seats amongst the final four and putting North Carolina’s name on two NCAA trophies.
For the innovation he brought to the game he loved and everything in between, he will be missed and admired forever.
RIP Mr. Smith.