Home | Sports | Legendary North Carolina Coach Dean Smith Dies at 83
Former University of North Carolina player and NBA standout Michael Jordan (L) kisses former University of North Carolina head coach Dean Smith during a ceremony honoring the 1957 and 1982 national championship teams at halftime of the NCAA basketball game between North Carolina and Wake Forest University in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on Feb. 10, 2007.

Legendary North Carolina Coach Dean Smith Dies at 83

Dean Smith, the North Carolina basketball coaching legend who won two national championships and was known for nurturing players on and off the court, died “peacefully” at his home on Saturday night, his family said in a statement. The retired Hall of Fame coach led the Tar Heels from 1961 to 1997, racking up 879 victories, which when he retired made him the winningest coach in college basketball history. Smith now “ranks fourth all-time behind longtime rival Mike Krzyzewski (1,003), Jim Boeheim (963) and Bob Knight (902),” details USA Today.

“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,” Roy Williams, the current North Carolina coach who spent 10 years as Smith’s assistant, said in a statement. “We love him and we will miss him.”

What made Smith such a popular figure went far beyond his ability to take a team to victory. “Unlike many, he ran a program that was never accused of N.C.A.A. violations, and some 97 percent of his players graduated,” notes the New York Times. Smith coached some players that went on to become household names, most notably Michael Jordan. But he always made a point of emphasizing that basketball was a team sport, one of the characteristics that earned him loyalty among his players and fans.

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