A man of honor: Competitive, irascible Dean Smith strove to do right

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The more history one lives through, the better able they are to understand it. Born in 1952, I’ve lived through plenty.

Dean Smith was 39 years old and starting his 10th season as head coach at North Carolina when I showed up in Chapel Hill for my freshman year in the fall of 1970. The Tar Heels had won the ACC championship and advanced all the way to the Final Four for three straight seasons of 1966-67, 1967-68 and 1968-69, so Smith was already established as one of college basketball’s best coaches.

But 714 of his 879 victories, both of his national championships and so many of the accomplishments that made his passing Saturday such a monumental news story still lay before him.

Hailing, as I did, from a mountain town tucked away in the southwest corner of the state, I was easily intimidated by famous and powerful people. No one was more intimidating when I arrived at Chapel Hill than Dean Smith.

During the six seasons I covered Smith and his program from up close — first for the Daily Tar Heel and later as a reporter and editor for the local Chapel Hill newspaper — he exhibited all the admirable, maddening, honorable and frustrating qualities that made him the legend he became.

Read full story: The Winston-Salem Journal