That Tar Heel squad featured Michael Jordan, James Worthy, and Sam Perkins and all three went on to have very successful NBA careers, two of them are Hall of Famers. Smith was at his best against a pretty damn good Georgetown team that had Patrick Ewing and Sleepy (Eric) Floyd.
Smith passed away on Saturday night, he was 83.
The University of North Carolina issued a statement announcing his passing:
“Coach Dean Smith passed away peacefully the evening of February 7 at his home in Chapel Hill, and surrounded by his wife and five children,” the Smith family said in a statement. “We are grateful for all the thoughts and prayers, and appreciate the continued respect for our privacy as arrangements are made available to the public. Thank you.”
Social media is all the rage nowadays and some of the best Tweets when they heard the news:
Vincent Goodwill: Dean Smith integrating the ACC and telling the old racists essentially to “Deal with it, I’m Dean” makes him beyond iconic from my view.
David Aldridge: Dean Smith built a dominant program at UNC. He stood taller as a man, fighting for racial equality when it wasn’t popular. RIP, Coach Smith.
Jerry Stackhouse on what he learned from Smith: Always treat people like you’re going to meet them again…
When he retired he had an NCAA record 879 wins and an amazing winning percentage of 77.6% is practically unheard of, in addition he made it to 11 Final Fours and won 2 NCAA Championships. Not to mention, 13 ACC titles.
He never used profanity, in this day and age that is shocking. But, not when you consider Smith himself. He was a firm believer in discipline and the team above the player, as it is with most coaches. When he decided to retire, he passed the reigns to long-time assistant Bill Gutheridge, his loyal assistant for more than 30 years.
“Other than my parents, no one had a bigger influence on my life than Coach Smith. He was more than a coach – he was my mentor, my teacher, my second father. Coach was always there for me whenever I needed him and I loved him for it. In teaching me the game of basketball, he taught me about life. My heart goes out to Linnea and their kids. We’ve lost a great man who had an incredible impact on his players, his staff and the entire UNC family.” –Michael Jordan
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