Last Wednesday Dean Edwards Smith’s wife received the Presidential Medal of Freedom on his behalf from President Barack Obama, proving once again that for as legendary a coach he has been, he has been just as great, if not better, as a human being.
For those of you that think this post is a bit late… you are right, but it was done on purpose as I did not want mine to be “just another” article about coach Smith and getting this award. I want to talk about something else.
We all know the numbers, we all know what he did on the court and off, the coach who invented the four corners was the same man who brought a black man to eat at an establishment which was holding on to the color barrier. The coach that some say has written a major part of the basketball gospel is the man that on every Sunday he could would be reading the real Gospel at his church. The coach that cared for his players as men was also the man that cared for his players as men in the ultimate game, the one called life.
A stellar career, a great man, things he did could have not been thought up by the best minds in the movie business. And yet, after his career has been over for more than a decade and a half a television mogul like ESPN, who has done many “30 for 30” biographies about stars in sports, has not thought of bringing this story to its channel?
Since I have thought about it, let me put forth my theory on how this documentary should be…
It would start with a camera moving down a dirt road, could be one just like one you remember as a child, that road would then change to old footage of Franklin Street, then to the tower bell and finally the Old Well. Then pictures of each of his 36 teams.
As those are being shown one of the two narrators, this time being Andrew Jones, would begin by saying had it been any other coach we might have begun by showing his picture first, but for Dean Smith it’s never been about him, it’s always been about the people around him.
At this point another corner stone of Carolina sports would begin talking, Adam Lucas, who would begin to interview people about Dean Smith’s pre Carolina time. From his time as a player in Kansas, to when he became an assistant coach, talking of course about both his job as a college coach and his personal life.
After a needed commercial (yes that was sarcasm) Mr. Jones would take over and the chapter of the transition from assistant coach to the head man of North Carolina would be talked about. And as more people are interviewed images of the tree where an effigy was hung and of the diner where he brought a black man to eat with him are shown.
From there the two narrators would weave in and out of the seasons coached and things done by the coach many would place on the Mount Rushmore of College Basketball. Telling us about his achievements as well as speaking with the many that know what Dean Smith did throughout his career and life.
And since this is kind of a short movie let me use a catch phrase common in Tinsel Town… the rest is history.
So, how about it ESPN?
You have always been known as the world leader in sports so why not do something like this about someone who many would say has been known as a leader of players and men. However, if you decided this to be worthwhile, do it because it’s the right thing to do for all and not just yourself, since that is how the man you would be speaking of would want it.
Let’s also do it while the man I speak is still with us, so that he may share with his family, his friends, his neighbors and all of us that have watched him a night in his honor. One who he would shy away from as he never wanted the spotlight, but that would be fully deserved of receiving.
And I will end with this… let me congratulate you Dean Smith, for all you have achieved, both on and off the court. But even more let me thank you… for what you have taught all of us, both on and off the court!