Honoring Dean Smith
February 12, 2015
The entire basketball world spent the past week mourning the passing of legendary University of North Carolina coach Dean Smith. I read countless stories about Smith over the weekend and learned a great deal. Doing this, I now know that his accomplishments should be appreciated by people both inside and outside the basketball community. I also know he has been inspirational to many. Here are some of the stories I learned of this weekend that I did not know about prior to his passing.
In 1965, Coach Smith helped a black graduate student buy a home in one of Chapel Hill’s all-white neighborhoods.
The graduate student, Howard Lee, would later become the mayor of Chapel Hill.
Coach Smith was the first UNC coach to recruit a black athlete on athletic scholarship.
That athlete, Charlie Scott, said that Coach Smith proceeded to treat him just like everyone else and that was all we wanted.
Coach Smith unsuccessfully tried to integrate his high school’s all-black and all-white basketball teams as a teenager in Kansas.
Michael Jordan & the late Dean Smith
He repeatedly kept saying that he just wanted to have the best players on one team, regardless of race.
In an attempt to fight racial segregation, Coach Smith went with a black student to a historically all-white restaurant shortly after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
That was the beginning of this restaurant being open to everybody.
Coach Smith was adamant that his players “point to the passer” after a made basket.
The gesture, a display of appreciation, is now common place at all levels of basketball.
Coach Smith told his office assistant that if any of his players needed to talk to him, she should interrupt whatever he is doing, no matter how important it seemed.The Washington Post said that was his “one firm rule.”
Coach Smith empowered his players to stand for something more than basketball.
One of his players was once allowed to miss practice to protest low wages at the school’s cafeterias.
Coach Smith’s players graduated at an astonishing rate of 96 percent.
The university’s overall graduation rate is much less than that. (Those following UNC’s current academic issues with athletes can insert their joke here.)
I like this one best. Coach Smith believed you should live your life for reasons more meaningful than fame.
A view perhaps symbolized by something Smith said to the Washington Post’s John Feinstein: “You should never be proud of doing what’s right. You should just do what’s right.”
Panthers’ Davis Honored
Lost amidst the Super Bowl and the many controversies that surfaced during the 2014 NFL season was that the Carolina Panthers’ Thomas Davis was named Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Though many know that Davis is the leader of the Panthers defense, few remember that he has overcome three knee surgeries. Fewer know of the many community service projects he and his foundation, Defending Dreams, take part in within the Charlotte area.
Panthers’ Thomas Davis
Davis’ speech when accepting the prestigious award drew rave reviews. He spoke of the need of players to take charge of their personal lives. Davis also asked the public, and the media, not to paint a broad brush over all the players because a small minority of players make moralistic mistakes. He spoke of there being so many guys doing good things that the public never hears about. He asked the media to report on some of the good things that are going on in this league and not always focus on the negative stuff.
Walter Payton would be proud of Thomas Davis.
Did You Know...
Did you know that political correctness is out of control? Chris Paul was fined for commenting that a rookie referee might not be ready for the NBA. It just happened that the referee was a woman.
I have a hard time believing he would have been fined if the referee was a guy...Did you know that the NFL never released the findings of their Spy-Gate investigation after finding the New England Patriots guilty? That tells me we will likely never find out what happened with the deflated footballs in the playoffs...Did you know that Peyton Manning will make $19 million next year if he chooses to not retire?
Peyton Manning, doing his Elvis
It has to be harder and harder to retire these days in professional sports with all the money that is out there. That works out to slightly over a million dollars a game. He will be back...Did you know that Alex Rodriguez is returning to baseball this season? He needs six more home runs to pass Willie Mays on the all-time list. Are you rooting for him to hit those six homers?