Dean Smith: A Coaches Life
by Dean E. Smith, John Kilgo and Sally Jenkins


Dean Smith
Coach Dean Smith tells the story of his legendary career and shares wisdom about living, explaining his thoughts on challenges facing basketball today.

-879 Wins, 77.6% Win Percentage (of 1,133 Games)
-Most DI 20 Win Seasons (20 in a row)
-27 NCAA Tournaments Apperances
-2 National Championships ( '82 & '93)
-2nd Most DI Wins behind Bob Knight
-Record 879 Wins broken by Bobby Knight in January of 2007.
-4 time Coach of the Year ( '77, '79, '82 & '93)
-Dean Smith Center (UNC) named after his exemplary career and life at the university.

(Dean Smith- Grolier & Wikipedia)
(Coach K)

Dean Edwards Smith was born on February 28, 1931 in Emporia, Kansas. His father was a basketball coach for the Emporia High Spartans, where in 1934 the Kansas tournament saw its first African-American player playing in the Kansas Tournament. Dean played basketball throughout his high school career as well as football and baseball. He went on to coach at the Air Force Academy but he is best known for his legendary coaching at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill which started in 1961 and spanned 36 years. He coached many famous players during his time there including Michael Jordan. Additionally, he promoted desegregation and since his retirement he has contributed to many charity events and political activities. He was a huge part of civil rights and political standings as well. Smith spoke out about issues such as the Vietnam War, the Death Penelty Gay Rights. He declared over the radio that he desired to put a hold on nuclear weapons. He spoke out against Governer Jim Hunt at a hearing for a death-row inmate. He even had some North Carolina basketball practices in prisons. Smiths life was full of great achievements in basketball- coaching and playing- and in political, religous and controversial events. Dean Smith may be the most influential, talented, and overall spectacular coach and person ever in the sport!

(Dean Smith- Grolier & Wikipedia)

Smith's Biography Video
(Mojo, Watch)


"One day my father recieved a Western Union Telegram. It was sent by the principal of a school in Chanute, Kansas, that Emporia was scheduled to play in an upcoming game. "Leave the Negro boy at home," the telegram said, "Or don't come."
My father had no intention of leaving Paul behind." (9)
external image desegregation.jpg
(Celebrate the Century)

Dean Smith was long opposed to segregation and racism, he got this from his father. In 1934, his father brought Paul, his African-American player to the Kansas tournament which broke numerous rules of the time. Dean admired this of his father and promoted desegregation throughout the rest of his life and career. He recruited Charlie Scott as UNC's first black scholarship athlete. In 1965, he was part of integrating "The Pines", a Chapel Hill restaurant, along with a local pastor and a black UNC student. Later, he even helped a black graduate student buy a home in an all white neighborhood.
"...the odds of my becoming anything other than a coach were nonexistent. When you deal in odds and probability you deal in options. The fact is, coaching was what I really wanted to do, whether it be football, basketball, or baseball." (30)

Smith wanted more than anything to become a coach. He was in love with sports, athletes and coaching. The first real coaching he did was in Kansas for the late-arriving football players who had not yet learned the plays. Although he considered it insignificant at the time, he realizes now that it gave him his first practical coaching work.
"Willie had a simple question for me. 'Dean, if I send a student down there on a Jefferson Standard Scholarship and he's good enough to play, are you going to play him?' he asked.
'Certainly. No doubt in the world,' I said. 'Why?'
'This is a Negro younster from Dudley High School.'
I said, 'Ive heard of him. He'll play.' " (97-98)
external image Charlie.jpg
(Tar Heels)

Although Lou Hudson's SAT scores were not high enough for acceptance into UNC, a short while later, Smith recruited Charles Scott as his first black scholarship athelete. Dean Smith's passionate goal to cease racism and segregation at the University was successful not only on campus, but also very much so on the court.
"I honestly believed Michael would make it in baseball because of the rapid improvement i had seen in his basketball when he was at North Carolina. I have been told that he improved as a hitter throughout the first summer, and I'm certain he would have worked at it. Who knows, if there hadn't been a baseball strike?" (215)
external image 001175714.jpg
(Kluetmeier, Heinz)

Smith comments on one of his most famous basketball proteges and his sudden pursuit of a career in baseball during the '93 - '94 season. However, due to the baseball strike he returned to the NBA after a brief time. Dean also points out that he supported Jordan and his decisions as any good coach ought to do.
"With such immense interest in college basketball, I wanted our players to continue to be ordinary students-who just happened to be on the university basketball team. Still, it was impossible to ignore the fact that some of them were becoming national figures, thanks to their winning and the TV exposure." (232)

An interesting part of this quote is that Dean refers North Carolina's publicity as a product of "their winning", not including himself. They certainly won the games, but it was not without his superior coaching and great personality. Yet, Smith does not comment on his own record here, but instead the records of the young men whose goals he helped them achieve.
"...I certainly had no desire or hidden agenda to tell others how to live their lives, how to behave, or what to believe. Except on a few occasions...I tried to be careful which torches I carried...i took my responsibility as a university employee seriously." (257)

In the second to last chapter of his incredibly influential book, Smith moves on to take a political standpoint on the book. He metions how he never wanted to tell people how to live their lives, but through his action people certainly did pick up many traits. His influence not only on basketball but also on the rest of the world young and old was incredible and he rightly holds his famous title.
Baucom, Phil . philbaucom.files.wordpress.com. Wordpress.com. 20 Nov 2008 http://philbaucom.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/unc.jpg.

Celebrate the Century. Sonic.net. 25 Nov 2008 http://www.sonic.net/~kjuarez/postwar/scav/desegregation.jpg.

Coach K Greatest of this Era?. HolllywoodCollectibles.com. 21 Nov 2008

Dean Smith. Wikipedia. 20 Nov 2008 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dean_Smith.

Kluetmeier, Heinz. Atlantic Coast Conference. SIvault.com. 30 Nov 2008 <i.cdn.turner.com/.../1984/03/03/001175714.jpg>.
(Phil Baucom)
Mojo, Watch . Dean Smith - Greatest College Basketball Coaches. YouTube.com. 20 Nov 2008 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ll5XtxQRFog&eurl.

Smith, Dean E. A Coach's Life. New York: Random House Inc., 1999.

"Smith, Dean." America the Beautiful. 2008. Grolier Online. 30 Nov. 2008 <http://atb.grolier.com/cgi-bin/article?templatename=profile.html&assetid=atb999b629&assettype=b>.

Tar Heels. Scott Fowler Sports. 25 Nov 2008 http://www.scottfowlersports.com/photos/Charlie.jpg.
Through reading his book, researching him online, and writing about him, I have learned tremendous amounts not only about his life but also the lives of his players, co workers and even family members. This experience has related to much more than just the history of basketball, it also spans the issues of race and discipline. Smith represents a great era of coaching and basketball, but he also represents many other, more personal attributes. His influence on the sport of basketball and on the rest of the United States and even the world has lasted and will last through long, hard times. He has influenced me and many others and will continue to impact the rest of the coaches, players, and spectators into the blurry future ahead.