With death, comes mourning. With mourning, comes grieving. And with grieving, comes stories.
Lots of stories. Almost always poignant.
Former North Carolina Tar Heel Bob McAdoo shared a few on Tuesday about his former coach, Dean Smith, who passed away this past Saturday after a long battle with dementia. McAdoo, 63, shared a story that he recently told former teammate Bill Chamberlain about his recruitment in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
“I went to visit (UNC),” McAdoo explained on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “It was December, and nobody was on campus. Back in the early ’70s, you didn’t have too many African-Americans on campus. I couldn’t see Bill because Bill was married. He was living off campus. And I think Dean kind of saw my face and he made a statement to me that kind of won me over. You got to realize: I’m a Southern boy. I’m from Greensboro, North Carolina. And this white coach says this to me. He says to me, ‘Bob, there’s not a lot of girls on this campus, but I wouldn’t have a problem if you dated my daughter.’ And that kind of stuck with me. I wasn’t dating. I was into basketball. But the statement that he made just really struck me. And that’s when I said, ‘This guy is a guy I want to play for.’”
Were other coaches embracing integration during that time?
“Not like that,” McAdoo said. “Not like that. Not like that. Dean was authentic with it. He was authentic with it.”
McAdoo also liked that Smith allowed him to keep his facial hair.
“A lot of the teams, you had to cut your sideburns off,” McAdoo explained. “They just weren’t going to have that. And Dean recognized that I was a guy that had facial hair. I had a mustache as a young guy. I had a little sideburns, and he let me keep it. That was the times.”
McAdoo then shared another surprising – if not shocking – tidbit about Smith.
“I never heard him utter a profanity,” McAdoo said. “Never. Never. You would know when he was upset because he would raise his voice, but you know probably from yourself and other coaches, something’s going to come out that’s going to be really nasty. But we never hear that out of Dean. You would hear his voice raised and that was it. He got his point across. You saw his face and you knew he meant business. At that time, coaches meant authority. You did what they told you to do. You ran through a wall and that’s what it was with him. We wanted to do that for him. When we were in the huddle in close games, Dean would have the most calming effect. It might be a tie game, one second or you might be down. He’d come, kneel in the huddle and he’d be smiling. You’re all tensed up and trying to figure (it) out – and he would come in the huddle and be smiling, which would relax you right away. I just never saw that out of another coach.”