Dean Smith More Than a Coach

Dean Edwards Smith (February 28, 1931 – February 7, 2015) was an American basketball coach and a legendary figure in the world of college basketball. Born in Emporia, Kansas, Smith became renowned for his coaching prowess, leadership, and the profound impact he had on the University of North Carolina (UNC) basketball program and the sport as a whole.

Early Life and Playing Career

Dean Smith grew up in a small town in Kansas, and his early exposure to basketball sparked a lifelong passion for the sport. He played college basketball at the University of Kansas under the coaching of Dr. Forrest "Phog" Allen. As a player, Smith was a part of the Kansas team that won the national championship in 1952.

Coaching Career

After serving as an assistant coach under Frank McGuire at UNC, Dean Smith became the head coach of the UNC Tar Heels in 1961. Over the course of his illustrious career, spanning from 1961 to 1997, Smith became one of the most successful and respected coaches in the history of college basketball.

Smith's coaching philosophy emphasized teamwork, discipline, and a commitment to player development. He was known for his innovative strategies, including the implementation of the "Four Corners" offense and his emphasis on academic achievement for his players.

Under Dean Smith's leadership, the UNC Tar Heels achieved remarkable success. He guided the team to two NCAA championships (1982 and 1993) and reached the Final Four 11 times. Smith's teams consistently performed at a high level in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), and he became the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division I men's basketball at the time of his retirement.

Social Advocacy

Beyond his coaching achievements, Dean Smith was a principled and socially conscious figure. He actively supported the civil rights movement and was an advocate for equality and justice. He recruited and played the first African American scholarship athlete at UNC, Charlie Scott, in the 1960s, making a significant impact on the integration of college basketball.

Legacy

Dean Smith's coaching legacy extends far beyond the basketball court. He mentored and influenced numerous players who went on to achieve success in the NBA and various other fields. His "coaching tree" includes notable coaches such as Roy Williams, Larry Brown, and George Karl.

Smith's impact on the game was officially recognized when he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983. His coaching philosophy, known as the "Carolina Way," emphasized not only success on the court but also the development of well-rounded individuals.

Dean Smith passed away on February 7, 2015, leaving behind a legacy of excellence, integrity, and social responsibility. The basketball world and the University of North Carolina continue to honor his memory, ensuring that his contributions to the sport are never forgotten.

 

A tribute to the late Dean Smith, called a "coaching legend" by the Basketball Hall of Fame
When he retired as North Carolina's basketball coach in 1997, Dean Smith was the winningest coach in NCAA Division I men's basketball history, leading the Tar Heels to an unprecedented 879 wins in a career that began in 1961. By 2015, when Smith passed away at the age of 83, the coach had become something of a living legend. Beloved by fans and players alike, Coach Smith's legacy was apparent well before his passing. In "Dean Smith: More than a Coach," the "Charlotte Observer "recalls Coach Smith's many accomplishments on and off the court, and reveals the impact he had on the lives of countless others. This commemorative tribute features dozens of rare stories and photographs from the newspaper's archives, and an exclusive introduction from acclaimed "Observer" columnist Scott Fowler. Whether celebrating Smith's two national championships, his four Coach of the Year awards, or his leadership in integrating the North Carolina basketball program, the book demonstrates that Smith's life is one well worth remembering.

A moving tribute to the late Dean Smith, who was a basketball coaching legend at North Carolina as well as a socially conscious person who did what he thought was right, no matter the consequences. When he retired in 1997, he was the winningest coach in NCAA Division I men's basketball history. Beloved by fans and players alike, Coach Smith's legacy was apparent well before his passing in February 2015. In Dean Smith: More Than A Coach, the Charlotte Observer's commemorative, 128-page tribute features rare stories and photographs from the newspaper's archives, with a powerful foreword by Phil Ford, one of North Carolina's all-time great players under Smith, as well as the writing of acclaimed Observer columnist Scott Fowler. Whether celebrating Smith's two national championships or his leadership in integrating the North Carolina basketball program and the town of Chapel Hill, the book is an extraordinary tribute to a beloved man.

 

 

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