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Fanfare for an Uncommon Man
Alexander Wolff
December 22, 1997
He become the winningest college basketball coach of all time and capped an exemplary career with a graceful retirement. For all of that we honor North Carolina's Dean Smith
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December 22, 1997

Fanfare For An Uncommon Man

He become the winningest college basketball coach of all time and capped an exemplary career with a graceful retirement. For all of that we honor North Carolina's Dean Smith

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S.L. PRICE, sportswriter, The Daily Tar Heel, 1981-83:

When they were building the Dean Dome, I wrote a column arguing that it was an extravagance, that athletes on campus were coddled, that the school could learn from Notre Dame and Harvard, where athletes lived among the other students. There was a huge uproar. There were letters to the paper. Roy Williams took me to task. The chancellor called me into his office. Their reaction was, We're North Carolina. How could you possibly criticize the way we do things?

Dean wrote me and asked me to come by his office at the end of the season. I was a know-it-all senior, and from my experience with everyone else I expected a dressing-down. But his reaction wasn't, Who are you or how dare you? He wanted to know what I knew, whether the system had gotten out of hand—whether there was something I could teach him that he didn't know. He was a man who didn't think he had all the answers. I left Chapel Hill with an understanding that here was the one guy who didn't buy into the myth that had been created around him.

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI:

Early in my career at Duke, I prepared hard for every opponent, but even harder for North Carolina, to the point of overcoaching. After several years I asked myself why I changed to play them. Why not have a system of our own—the way they have a system of their own—to beat anyone, them included? Then playing them wouldn't be a matter of adjusting. It would be a matter of habit.

I learned from Dean that a system works against anybody. And probably the biggest win in the development of our program came right after I made that change, in 1984, when they were No. 1 and had Jordan and Perkins.

JEFF LEBO, guard, 1985-89:

He quit smoking my junior year. In a team meeting, before he quit, his nose started to bleed. It filled up a towel, but he wouldn't stop the meeting. "When you have a big nose, it bleeds a lot," he said. He missed like a week of practice after that, which was unbelievable, but doctor's orders. I think that helped get him to give up smoking.

He was a little on the cranky side the season he quit, not quite as patient. We all knew what he was going through. Some days we'd be saying, Oh, man, somebody give him a cigarette.

REVEREND ROBERT SEYMOUR:

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