Late North Carolina Tar Heels coach, Dean Smith is one of the most successful basketball coaches in NCAA basketball history.
With 879 career victories, Smith retired as one of the most successful men’s collegiate basketball coaches.
The coaching legend coached at the University of North Caroline ffrom 1961 to 1997 and during his tenure as head coach, won two national championships and appeared in 11 Final Fours.
Think of the big names that Smith coached during his time at UNC: Michael Jordan, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, James Worthy, Antawn Jamison and Sam Perkins.
Lot of legends, champion and Hall of Famers on that list! That left a lot of mentoring on Dean Smith’s part, too!
“Dean Smith helped me probably more off the court,” Tar Heels legend, Sam Perkins told Reginald Calixte and I on the Scoop B & Reg Podcast.
“He was a mentor and he was always talking about people who have done so much for you and now it is time to give back. When you are in that situation, try to always help somebody. He sat down with all 15 of us and I don’t remember what all of the conversations were about, but when we talked it was always about trying to inspire by the first one.”
The fourth pick in the the 1984 NBA Draft, Perkins was USA Basketball’s Male Athlete of the Year that same year and spent 17 years in the NBA with notable stints with the Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and the Seattle Super Sonics.
Big Smooth averaged 11 points and 6 rebounds during his career and had solid roles during a couple of NBA Finals appearances with the Lakers, Sonics and the Pacers.
Perkins said Smith sold him on UNC. “He knew my family well,” he tells the Scoop B & Reg Podcast.
“And he said: ‘you get to play ball while getting your degree. You will be the first one in your family to get a degree, and that will be something that they can never take from you. So, why not go to school and play ball on the side and it is not the other way around.'”
Perkins says that Smith, a standout player and two time NCAA National Champion during his time at Kansas earned his trust for his honesty.
“He is more than just a coach, he is a mentor and he knew black people to the point he knew where we came from,” Perkins told Scoop B & Reg.
“He also knew what we had and he was terrific about just doing good things. He is the reason the first African American student-athlete came to North Carolina and introducing black players to white colleges. Then the door opened after that. He has done a lot of things off the court and that is why we pay so much homage to him, and you can talk to any other Carolina guy and they probably say something similar.”