By Ken Reed

Legendary North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith passed away on Saturday. He leaves an amazing legacy — on and off the court.

Dean Smith’s impressive coaching record:

27 straight 20-win seasons

33 years in a row of finishing in the top 3 of the ACC

22 seasons of at least 25 wins

13 consecutive Sweet 16 appearances

11 Final Fours

2 National championships

Just as impressively, Smith had a 96.6% graduation rate (30% who went on to some type of grad school). He broke the color barrier in most of the ACC and at UNC when he recruited Charlie Scott, and he helped integrate Chapel Hill, North Carolina by going to his favorite restaurant with a black student. He also helped a black grad student get a home in a previously all white area of Chapel Hill. He campaigned against the death penalty, fought for civil rights for gays and lesbians, and protested nuclear proliferation.

His program never had a single NCAA violation. He was known for his strong ethics, clean program, and stressing character with his players.

He always pushed team play over individualism and was one of the most creative and innovative coaches ever. Some things he’s credited with inventing: the 4-Corners offense, using a quote of the day at practices, having players point at teammates to acknowledge passes/assists, using the tired signal when players needed a break, double-teaming the screen and roll, the run and jump trapping defense, the team huddle at the FT line, and the Carolina fast break.

When players made a bad pass, he would yell “Nice idea!” and clap his hands. He used this positive approach with players because Phog Allen, his coach when he played at Kansas, would berate him for mistakes and immediately pull him from the game.

And he did it all with class.

His secretary said he treated everyone in the program, from secretaries to team managers, to the last person on the bench, the same way: with empathy, caring, and humility.

“Dean Smith is the best person I have ever known and no one else is even a close second,” said Eddie Fogler, who played for Smith and later coached under him and became a successful head coach himself.

Quite a life — as a professional and human being.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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