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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Legendary UNC coach Dean Smith passes away at 83

The college basketball world found out early Sunday morning that a legend was lost. North Carolina coaching great Dean Smith passed away Saturday evening in his home at the age of 83.

“Coach Dean Smith passed away peacefully the evening of [Feb.] 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.”

Smith coached the Tar Heels for 36 years from 1961-97 to a 879-254 (.776 win percentage) record during his time at the helm of the UNC program. Smith won two national championships at UNC (1982 and 1993), made 11 Final Four appearances, coached the U.S. national team to a gold medal at the 1976 Olympic Summer Games and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983.

Smith had the most wins of any coach in men’s Division I history at the time of his retirement.

Smith revolutionized the game with his four corners offense, which sparked the implementation of the shot clock at the collegiate level and started several trends such as Senior Day, pointing to a teammate after an assist and players motioning to the bench when tired. Not to mention Smith was a direct descendant of James Naismith, the creator of basketball.

Notable players Smith coached include Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Bob McAdoo, Brad Daugherty, Kenny Smith, Walter Davis, Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison.

Jordan, who is arguably the greatest NBA player ever, released a statement on Sunday speaking on Smith’s importance to his life and playing career.

“Other than my parents, no one had a bigger influence on my life than coach Smith,” Jordan said. “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 addition to the numerous notable players he coached, Smith has a sizeable coaching tree that includes Larry Brown, George Karl, Scott Cherry and current UNC head coach Roy Williams.

Williams, who spent 10 years as an assistant coach for Smith, also released a statement highlighting Smith’s significance to his coaching style and outlook on life.

“I’d like to say on behalf of all our players and coaches, past and present, that Dean Smith was the perfect picture of what a college basketball coach should have been,” Williams said. “We love him, and we will miss him.”

It is safe to say the college basketball world lost a great one in Dean Smith.

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Follow Roberto Payne on Twitter.

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