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Monday, March 13, 2006
Ring-ing Endorsement

By Mike Puma
Special to ESPN.com

Signature Game

March 29, 1982 - After six trips to the Final Four without a championship, Dean Smith, having heard the whispers he couldn't win the big game, had his team in position for the NCAA title. With North Carolina trailing Georgetown by a point and 32 seconds remaining, Smith signaled for his team to call timeout.

"I didn't sense or feel any tension from them, although Michael [Jordan] said later he was so nervous the roof of his mouth was dry," Smith said.

Smith told his players he expected Georgetown to be in a zone, but diagrammed two plays, just in case the Hoyas showed man-to-man. "I had a hunch we could wind up with Jordan as the shooter if the Hoyas were in a zone," Smith said.

Georgetown showed zone and Jordan buried a jumper from the left wing with 15 seconds remaining, giving North Carolina the 63-62 victory and Smith that elusive championship.

"We beat Georgetown that night by one point," Smith said. "That one point should not change perceptions of me. It certainly didn't determine how good or bad I was as a coach or person."

Odds 'n' Ends
  • Smith was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan growing up in Kansas.

  • He played football and basketball under his father in the ninth grade in Emporia.

  • He was a quarterback for Kansas' freshman football team in 1949.

  • At Kansas, Smith averaged 1.9 points in his three seasons.

  • One of Smith's Kansas teammates was future Hall of Famer Clyde Lovellette, who scored 33 points in the Jayhawks' 80-63 victory over St. John's in the 1952 NCAA final. Smith didn't score in the game.

  • In the NCAA championship contest the next season, Smith scored one point in Kansas' 69-68 loss to Indiana.

  • In his first season (1958-59) as a North Carolina assistant Smith was paid $7,500.

  • In 1959, Smith became a charter member of the Brinkley Baptist Church, where he became a deacon and taught a Sunday school class.

  • Smith hired Larry Brown, who had played for him in his first two seasons, as an assistant coach in 1965.

  • Smith began using the Four Corners more during the 1965-66 season.

  • The Tar Heels made four NIT appearances under Smith, winning in 1971.

  • Bob McAdoo was the first of Smith's players to leave early for the NBA, in 1972.

  • In a 1974 game against Duke, Smith's Tar Heels erased an eight-point deficit in the final 17 seconds (before the three-point shot) and won in overtime.

  • On Smith's gold-winning U.S. team in 1976 were four North Carolina players: Phil Ford, Walter Davis, Mitch Kupchak and Tom LaGarde.

  • In the 1977 ACC tournament final, Smith instigated a shouting match with Virginia's Marc Iavaroni.

  • Using the Four Corners against Duke in 1979, Smith's Tar Heels trailed 7-0 at halftime. They lost 47-40.

  • Smith was voted ACC Coach of the Year eight times. After getting the award in 1979, he went nine years without winning, the longest stretch in his career.

  • Smith served as president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches in 1982.

  • In the 1980s, Smith had to be persuaded to let North Carolina place his name on its new basketball arena.

  • In October 1987, Smith had to break the news to player Scott Williams that Williams' father and mother were dead after a murder/suicide was committed by Williams' father.

  • North Carolina's string of 13 straight Sweet 16 appearances under Smith ended with a 75-72 loss to Boston College in the second round of the 1994 NCAA Tournament.

  • In 1997, Smith was named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated.

  • Smith had a rule forbidding freshmen to be interviewed by the media until they had played in their first regular-season game.

  • The Tar Heels shot at least 50 percent from the floor in all but four seasons under Smith.

  • Three times under Smith the Tar Heels surpassed 30 victories in a season, with a best of 34 wins in 1992-93, when they won the NCAA championship.

  • Over Smith's final 27 seasons, the Tar Heels averaged 27 victories.

  • In his last 33 seasons, his teams finished no lower than third in the ACC.

  • Only Mike Krzyzewski has won more NCAA Tournament games than Smith and only John Wooden has taken his teams to more Final Fours.

  • Besides Smith, only Bob Knight and Pete Newell have coached teams to Olympics, NCAA and NIT titles.

  • Eleven of Smith's former players are physicians.

  • While coaching the Tar Heels, Smith refused endorsement deals because he didn't want to separate himself from the North Carolina faculty.

  • Smith developed a clenched-fist signal as a way for players to indicate they needed a breather.

  • Smith's book Multiple Offenses and Defenses became the best-selling technical basketball book in history.

  • Smith played an active role in screening agents for players who had professional aspirations.

  • While coaching, he actively campaigned for nuclear disarmament and abolishing the death penalty.

  • Smith worked as a studio analyst for CBS during the 1998 NCAA Tournament.

  • He is a longtime opponent of the SAT, calling the standardized test culturally biased.

  • In 2004, Smith advocated a return to freshmen being declared ineligible for varsity competition.