Remembering Dean: Stories & Laughs

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The North Carolina basketball family celebrated Dean Smith's life with anecdotes during his memorial service on Sunday.

Billy Cunningham
“To say it was difficult times for him would be an understatement. He was being hung in effigy. Everyone was questioning his coaching ability and what he was doing. Alumni, students, there weren’t too many good things. In fact, I found something from an old Daily Tar Heel, Jan. 13, 1965, and I just took a little portion of it out: ‘I know Dean has a big job to do and if he can’t keep up with the traditions of the fine Carolina teams he should start looking for smaller shoes to fill.’ And it at the bottom it says name withheld. I hope he is here tonight.”

Mickey Bell
“I was not an All-American. I didn’t play in the NBA. My jersey is up there in the rafters, but some guy named O’Koren went up there and put his name on it. When you look at the other speakers here today, they are all legends. Antawn Jamison, Phil Ford, Eric Montross. I said, ‘Coach, don’t you want another star to speak here today?’ And Roy reminded me that Coach Smith gave equal treatment to every player, from a walk-on to a superstar. Yes, Roy said, all of these speakers achieved great basketball accomplishments, but everyone thought it would be great to have someone on the other end of the spectrum to make a presentation.”

Phil Ford
“It must have been my second or third game my first year as an assistant on the staff. The first two games I didn’t say anything. I was really nervous and in awe. In this particular game however, I said I’m going to coach this game. I’m going to help out. So J.R. [Reid] was playing. And we come down the court, we change sides of the court like we were taught to do. We make three or four passes throw it in to J.R. J.R. would kick it out, he’d get a little deeper and we’d kick it back in to him, and he would miss a one-foot jump hook. The other team would come down the court, they would make one pass, and the guy would shoot a 3-point shot with a hand in his face. So this happened three or four times down the court and I said, ‘I’m going to coach a little bit right now.’ So I said ‘Coach, you think we should call a time out?’ and he turned and said with a straight face, ‘What are we going to tell them? We’re getting the shots that we want to get and they are taking the shots that we want them to take.’ That was my first lesson in coaching right there.”

Brad Daugherty
“I was in Boston this week doing some pro basketball. I walked out of a CVS pharmacy trying to get over to the studio and it’s freezing cold. I had my little suit on trying to look good and I’m running late across the parking lot. And this guy walked up and said, ‘Excuse me sir, do you have a couple of bucks?’ I said to him, ‘All I got is a credit card.’ I wanted to get in the car because it was really cold. I got all the way across the parking lot to my car and I stopped. I walked back over and gave him a couple of bucks and I wish you the best, God bless. I turned around and smiled to myself and I said, ‘What would Coach Smith say?’ And I had this big warm feeling come over me because I can just see him saying, ‘Brad, you did the right thing.’ Hugging me around my waist. When he hugs you, you can’t get away because he holds on. I could just see him saying that he was so proud. Not because of anyone saw what you did. Not because of anything you are going to get out of what you just did, but because it was the right thing to do.”

Antawn Jamison
“We had a guy on that team by the name of Makhtar N’Diaye. For some reason, Makhtar N’Diaye was the one guy who could always get the lighter side of Coach Smith. He would say things that we wouldn’t normally say or even attempt to say to Coach Smith. It was during a tournament where we had a win, and Coach Smith always said be humble and act like you’ve done it before. But we turned around and we see Makhtar forcing him to raise the roof. And to see a guy in his late 60’s and early 70’s try and raise the roof is about as awful as seeing Coach Williams in the huddle after a win dancing with his guys.”

Roy Williams
“One thing I thought of when something was said about Coach taking [his team] to Butner and practicing is one of the times I disagreed with Coach Smith. He took one of the teams when I was here to the state maximum security prison. Everybody there had at least two life sentences. And they closed that door, that gate, and it is a scary feeling. We’re in there and we’re doing a little clinic and everybody’s having a good time and Coach says, ‘Let’s scrimmage those guys.’ And he looks at me and he says, ‘Coach, you referee.’ I said, ‘Coach, if you think I’m calling a foul on one of those guys you are crazy.’ And that was the truth. I didn’t call a single foul.”

“A few games back, I look over and there was a gentlemen down in the middle here about the second row, standing and watching the pregame. And I got Clint Gwaltney and I said, ‘Clint, go over there and ask that guy if his name is Terrance, and if it is, tell him it looks like he might still be able to play.’ And so Clint walks across the floor and the guy is standing down there. He said, ‘Is your name Terrance?’ The guy said, ‘Yeah.’ And he said, ‘Coach Williams said that you might still be able to play.’ And I made Coach Smith proud that day because Terrance Burroughs played on my first JV team 37 years ago.”


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