Roy Williams Radio Show Quotes

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Roy Williams's live radio show, hosted by Jones Angell, celebrated the life of Dean Smith with stories and call-ins from former players and friends on Monday night.

Can you take us through the whirlwind that you’ve been through since learning of Dean Smith’s passing?
“It has been a whirlwind. I’ve thought I was prepared and I think we always hope for the best. But I thought I was prepared for the news, but it came pretty quickly. Coach’s son Scott contacted Steve Kirschner Saturday after the game and then I spoke to Scott from the bus and then got a text from him later that night about what happened. I spoke to Scott and I spoke to Linnea late, late Saturday night. Again I thought I was prepared, but I wasn’t. In a lot of ways it’s been a blessing, which most people can say when something like this happens. It’s been extremely sad, but also man, do I feel blessed because that man was so important to me and so important in my life. He gave me so many opportunities and so much of his knowledge. So what I’m trying to focus on now is just the celebration of how blessed that I have been. I said that to someone and a few hours later I got a text from Kenny Smith and he said almost the same thing, so I told him either idiots or brilliant minds think alike, I didn’t know which one. That is the way, because it was such a tremendous and life and there were so many things that he shared with so many other people and so many people benefited from being able to know Coach Smith.”

How was Coach Smith able to reach so many people and mean so much to them, as evidenced by the incredible outpouring of support and praise since his passing?
“He cared about people and he was willing to give his time to people. Just think, I would still be a high school coach; I hope I’d be a good one. John Thompson deserves the credit because I saw Coach Thompson after the ‘76 Olympics saying Dean Smith shared the most valuable thing that he could ever share and that was his knowledge. I’ve always thought of it that way, because coach was such a teacher. And when you’re a teacher, you try to teach anybody. I remember when Jimmy Calhoun and his staff wanted to come down and talk basketball. They spent a couple of days with it. I remember Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs came and spent three or four weeks with us when he was the coach of [Pomona-Pitzer]. So many people have those stories about writing Coach Smith, contacting him, calling him and seeing him. He was able to share. He loved coaches and he loved teachers, and that’s the way he looked at coaches. He came into contact with so many people and he remembered most of them, which was unique in the way he was. He also shared some private things with everybody because if they asked a question, he’d try to help, and he was never too busy for people.”

On his return to Chapel Hill to be an assistant under Smith:
“I remember the night that he asked me if I would have any interest in coming back and being an assistant coach. It was hard to speak, it really was. I thought I was having a heart attack when I was trying to talk to him. We’re in a booth at Slugs at the Pines at our summer basketball camp and I remember it just like it was yesterday.”

On his various memories of Coach Smith:
“I think of so many things. Today I left practice and I backed out and looked in the rearview mirror and there’s the Dean E. Smith Center. I just started giggling because we really had to convince him that it was ok to name it that. Swofford was here at that time, and Coach said it should be named after the players, and I said that’d be a little bit of a long name. I said today that he was the common denominator, but what really got me giggling is because the first year or so they did call it the Dean Dome and some people still do. Coach Smith was not vain anything like normal, he just wasn’t. But he said ‘You know that irritates me a little bit. I’ve lived with this thing about my big nose my whole life, but I do have hair.’ So that’s what I’m thinking of as I pulled out of the parking lot tonight.”

Former Tar Heel standout Antawn Jamison:
“One thing I loved when I was in the league is other coaches, other people wish they could have what we have. And it’s all because of Coach Smith. Whether you were Michael Jordan, or a manager, or the last walk-on on the court, he treated everybody with the same amount of respect. Not too many people can have that type of impact on so many people’s lives. I get down on my knees every night and thank God ever night that that guy came to my house and recruited me to come to the University of North Carolina. I’d made the smartest decision when I said, ‘Coach, I’m going to play for you.’ Little did I know all of the stuff that would be involved. Like you said, when you talk about it, it doesn’t do it justice.”

Former UNC athletic director and current ACC Commissioner John Swofford:
“I think it’s immeasurable, first of all. And it’s awfully hard to articulate it. But he represented everything that a college sport of any sport should be.”

Former UNC player and assistant coach Phil Ford:
“The things that he shared with all of us. Not only his basketball knowledge, but the knowledge that he shared with us that would make us a better person. When I went to North Carolina, that’s what I was looking for. I’d always had a close relationship with every coach that I had, and I guess I was lucky that it developed there too. He made everybody a better basketball player, we got better as a team and he just cared for us as individuals and that’s something that we can never repay him for. He didn’t have to do those things, but he did them because he thought it was right.”

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