Dean Smith can still captivate a Carolina crowd


“Basketball Day” in North Carolina featured familiar faces to college basketball fans: Dean Smith, Debbie Yow – the sister to the late Kay Yow – and Mike Krzyzewski.

Not sure there’s a more powerhouse trio out there.

The three were honored by the state’s hall of fame with Naismith Good Sportsmanship Awards for their contributions to game. It’s not as if they needed more honors given their coaching success, but it made for an “incredible night” nonetheless.

According to Dan Wiederer of the Fay Observer, Smith’s presence was the reason for it.

From his blog:

By far, the most special moment came when Smith was officially honored, first with the presentation by Scott, and then with an emotional speech from his protégé, Roy Williams.

At 80 years old and still in a fierce battle with a cruel neurocognitive disorder, Smith attended Wednesday’s ceremony. But he was on stage for less than 10 minutes, a reminder to everyone to soak up these moments while they last.

Yet it was no surprise that even in that short amount of time on stage, Smith received a pair of standing ovations plus warm hugs from Scott and Williams and an extended ovation from Krzyzewski.

And, as you probably guessed, the stirring applause triggered that old palms-down reflex in Smith with the legendary coach gesturing for everyone in the audience to sit down and to stop brightening the spotlight.

Try as he might, that’s pretty much impossible when it comes to Smith and the state of Carolina. Coach K – no stranger to public acclaim in the state – paid tribute to his former rival by admitting as much.

“Dean set the standard for basketball – and not just college basketball – that everyone is still trying to reach,” Krzyzewski said.

Coach K is there. In another 15 years, he’ll be in a similar setting, most likely receiving some sort of similar acclaim.

That’s how it goes for Carolina coaching legends.

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