I was trying to put this in a tweet, but I couldn’t squeeze it into 140, not even close. But this won’t be long.
I was thinking about Dean Smith and how all the greats are singing his praises today, communicating how important Smith was to them, to basketball and to so much more. And rightfully so.
But for some reason, that’s not enough. Dean Smith was huge. I mean, almost undefinably huge. If you’re too young to remember Dean Smith, it just feels like more needs to be said. But I never knew Smith, never played for him, never even met him.
What the hell can I add?
Well, just this … For all the big-namers who come out in praise of Dean Smith, there are countless other “lessers,” literally millions and millions and millions, who were touched or influenced by him. I know because I was, and I’m just like a gazillion others.
I played high school basketball, and a little small-college ball after that. If you’re reading this, you probably played, too, and whether it’s junior high, high school, college or even better than that, the fact is Smith touched so many.
His reach is staggering.
When my high school coach wanted to stall, he put the point guard in the middle of the floor and told the other guys to stand in the corners. My college coach, Glenn Robinson, happened to be a student of Smith’s (attending his coaching clinics in offseasons) and implemented many of Smith’s philosophies, strategies and practice techniques.
And because Dean Smith didn’t swear, Robinson didn’t swear.
The point being that Dean Smith influenced innumerable coaches — at all levels — who in turn influenced exponentially even more players. The guy had it all: Whether it was strategy, preparation, demeanor, off-court awareness, humility and so much more. If Smith is remembered as the generational college basketball coaching successor to John Wooden, you won’t get many arguments.
Because there are so few in basketball who haven’t been influenced by him.