Dean Smith: A Basketball Life

Dean Smith: A Basketball Life

by Jeff Davis


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Dean Smith: A Basketball Life by Jeff Davis

"Other than my parents, no one had a bigger influence on my life than Coach Smith. He was more than a coach—he was my mentor, my teacher, my second father. Coach was always there for me whenever I needed him and I loved him for it. In teaching me the game of basketball, he taught me about life."
—Michael Jordan

Former University of North Carolina men’s basketball coach Dean Smith was one of the most successful coaches ever to hold a whistle. In his 36 years at North Carolina, his teams won a record 879 games. They also captured 17 conference championships and two NCAA championships, claimed 30 seasons with at least 20 wins, and made 11 Final Four appearances. Coach Smith developed 26 consensus All-Americans, five NBA rookies of the year (including the great Michael Jordan), and 25 first-round draft picks.

But Smith’s basketball accomplishments tell only part of his story. You may not know that Smith worked to abolish the death penalty in North Carolina and openly supported gay rights. As a high school senior in 1949, five years before the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education, he pleaded in vain with officials to include African-American players on the school’s basketball team. Sixteen years later, after completing his fourth season as the head coach at North Carolina, Smith ventured to New York City and came back to Chapel Hill with Charlie Scott, the most significant recruit of his tenure. Scott became the school’s first African-American scholarship recipient. Smith had successfully integrated major college basketball in the South.

Smith passed away in February 2015, and Dean Smith: A Basketball Life takes stock of this extraordinary man whose ideas and philosophies have shaped the best of what college basketball has been and should aspire to be in the future. In this revealing biography, author Jeff Davis calls on the reminiscences of Coach Smith’s closest friends and associates, former players, coaches, and rivals, and a wealth of secondary sources, to render a rich and vivid portrait of this towering figure of 20th-century American sports.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781623363604
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 02/07/2017
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 780,614
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Jeff Davis is a career journalist and lifelong Chicagoan. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Davis served nearly 4 years as a junior officer in the US Navy before returning home and breaking into broadcast journalism amid the tumult and shouting of the wildest year ever: 1968. Davis wrote and produced news, sports, and documentaries and contributed reports to NBC Sports and the Today show. He has been cited for excellence in journalism, receiving Associated Press and UPI awards, and has been honored with five Emmys for television production. He is the author of critically acclaimed biographies of George Halas and Pete Rozelle. He lives in Evanston, IL.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly ix

1 The Cradle of College Basketball 1

2 Lessons for a Coach's Son 17

3 Destined to Coach 33

4 Ku Joins the Elite 45

5 Learning the Basketball Trade 69

6 The Southern Part of Heaven 87

7 Another Fix Jolts College Basketball 105

8 The Fight to Capture the Acc 123

9 Integration Comes to the South 139

10 The Rivals 163

11 It Takes a Champion 175

12 Sonny Side Up 187

13 A Winner to the End 193

14 Trouble in Tar Heel Country 205

15 Dean Smith's Legacy 219

Acknowledgments 225

About the Author 228

Bibliography and Source Notes 229

Index 233

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