Faithful commentor Raven points out, given that my sports-related posts are not usually flattering, it’s only fair I pay due notice to the passing of a professional sportsman who lived up to the higher goals: former UNC Coach Dean Smith.
Here’s Coach Smith’s NYTimes obituary:
Dean Smith, who built the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team into a perennial national power in his 36 years at Chapel Hill and became one of the game’s most respected figures for qualities that transcended the court, died on Saturday in Chapel Hill, N.C. He was 83…
Smith had 879 victories, fourth most among major college men’s basketball coaches, and his teams won two national championships.
But it was his values — his fight against racial discrimination when segregation was still prevalent in the South and his insistence that his players prepare themselves for a future beyond the game — that earned him an especially enduring stature.
President Obama awarded Smith the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, in November 2013, citing his “courage in helping to change our country” through his progressive views on race relations…
Michael Jordan, perhaps basketball’s greatest player, was among a host of all-Americans who played for Smith. Jordan issued a statement on Twitter saying that Smith was “more than a coach — he was a mentor, my teacher, my second father,” who had taught him not only about basketball but also about “the game of life.”
Like most successful coaches, Smith, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and a four-time national coach of the year, was adept at diagraming plays on a blackboard. But unlike many, he ran a program that was never accused of N.C.A.A. violations, and about 97 percent of his players graduated….
Jason Zengerle, at Slate, writes “Dean Smith’s Political Approach to Being a Coach Is Missed Now More Than Ever“:
…. There was perhaps no issue more important to Smith than civil rights. Most famously, in 1966, he recruited Charlie Scott to Chapel Hill, making Scott the first black scholarship athlete in the University of North Carolina’s history and the first black basketball star in the Atlantic Coast Conference. But Smith wasn’t like other pioneering coaches, who broke college sports’ color barrier for purely pragmatic reasons. (Alabama football coach Bear Bryant famously started recruiting black players to Tuscaloosa only after the University of Southern California—and its fullback Sam Cunningham—had run over the Crimson Tide in a 1970 contest.) To Smith, racial justice was about much more than winning and losing. “It was simply the correct thing to do,” he wrote. Smith understood this far sooner than many other white Americans.
As a teenager in Topeka, Kansas, he’d persuaded his high school principal—five years before the Supreme Court decided Brown v. Board of Education—to integrate the school’s basketball team. Nine years later, as an assistant basketball coach at UNC, he took it upon himself to help integrate Chapel Hill when he and his pastor invited a black theology student with them to dinner at the town’s finest restaurant, which was then still segregated…
Even after Smith became a brand name—when many of his similarly accomplished colleagues began to shy away from doing or saying anything controversial for fear of damaging their own brands—he continued to act on his convictions. A staunch and unswerving liberal, Smith protested against the Vietnam War, campaigned in favor of a nuclear freeze, and supported gay rights. He was such an avowed opponent of capital punishment that he’d frequently take his teams to visit North Carolina’s death row at Central Prison in Raleigh and once told North Carolina’s governor, “You’re a murderer.”
Smith was similarly outspoken on behalf of his players: He was an early advocate for paying college athletes and he used to set aside a portion of his $300,000 annual salary from Nike—for putting the company’s sneakers on his players’ feet—to a fund that helped players who didn’t graduate pay for their degrees. (He also divided up half of that Nike paycheck between his assistant coaches and administrative staff.)…
More about Dean Smith’s early civil rights agitation here, from Richard Lapchick at ESPN. Thanks for the link, and the heads-up, Raven!
Apart from being cheered to remember that there are good people out there doing the right thing, what’s on the agenda for the day?
A much needed dose of inspiration this morning. I was not aware of Mr. Smith and his philosophy. Thanks, Raven and AL for sharing.
This story was tempered by my day on jury duty yesterday. Two guys up on 19 charges stemming from a home invasion with guns and knives that left one person blinded in one eye. I was willing but I’m really glad I didn’t get picked. I wrote last night that 48 people were asked if, as adults, they had ever been in a “physical confrontation”? I was the only one who said they had. I can’t imagine the case will take less than a week and maybe longer with a witness list of about 25 people.
Thanks for the story about Mr. Smith. I had heard of his advocacy, but not the extent of it.
It’s Tuesday, and as the gods said to Sisyphus, “keep shakin’ that rock.”
“Are not usually flattering,” Surely you jest AL.
@eric nny: Don’t call her Shurley!
What a contrast to the Rat down the road.
97% of his players graduated. That is a staggering number in a good way. I know he was an amazing coach but that might have been the best thing he ever did.
You forgot the readership capture tag, AL. ;-)
I don’t follow much sports anymore, but it’s nice read about truly good people. Although the context is a shame.
Hats off to Dean Smith. If only there were more like him.
That is amazing. That’s just a little more than 2%. I grew up in a different world.
I’ve never been in a fight. I might have turned out better if I had.
@OzarkHillbilly: I get the sense that maybe that world is smaller than I thought and that’s a good thing I suppose.
@Baud: Really you have never been in a fight? I ask because in my experience here you have always been truthful and polite to me. As a kid growing up in the 70s and 80s we got in fights. I didn’t like this so much because often I was being bullied. But I got in fights.
No fights. I was picked on as a kid, but I was never beaten up.
@raven: Yes, but I think also things have gotten less violent all around. I only had a couple “physical confrontations” back in the 70s-80s but that was mostly due to the fact that I was very adept at seeing them coming. These days when I head up to the city there is just a whole different vibe, it feels more relaxed, less stressful, than it was when last I lived there 12 years ago, which was far better than it was when first I moved there back in the 70s.
What ever it is, it’s a good thing.
@Tommy: It was UNC, you know. I don’t think he was necessarily involved in setting up the sham AFAM classes, but it’s pretty clear that his players took them.
And he was still an absolute giant of a human being.
@raven: That amazes me too (the lack of physical confrontations in the potential jury pool, I mean).
@OzarkHillbilly: The statistics you might have been expecting still could apply to the general population. The question would be how representative that particular jury pool was.
The last time I served, the pool and the resulting jury was much more Anglo, affluent, and more college educated than the county (Harris county, Texas – Houston) as a whole.
That said, I get the feeling that on a per capita basis, Americans of this time period are less physically combative than than our press coverage would indicate. I think we do much, much more complaining and whining and extremely little escalation to the physical.
@Baud: Pretty much the story of my life, I’m a little person(still).
Dean Smith sounds like he was a great guy. May he rest now in peace.
I was surprised, too. I got into fights all the time as a kid, all the way up to a high school junior. Shoved some drunk asshole around during college who was manhandling his date in a hotel stairwell on New Years Eve (he was too surprised to fight back, so it doesn’t count). In my early 30s, a guy who’d been stalking his ex wife AND ex children AND her former attorney for two years in a Cape Fear original version way thought he’d square off on me outside a courtroom after I’d gotten an order compelling him to submit to a deposition he’d walked out on. I surprised him by not calling out for a bailiff; I dropped all the shit I was carrying, stepped forward toward him, and politely gave him an option to take the first swing. I did provide a caveat that it had better put me down, because if it didn’t, it was gonna be “on”.
Chickenshit didn’t take me up on it, and right after he backed off, the bailiff came out into the hallway.
Iowa Old Lady
@OzarkHillbilly: I read the question as Have you seen a physical confrontation as an adult? That is, not while you were growing up.
I’m trying to decide if I have. Do drunk guys wrestling in the stands at a baseball game count?
Great post, AL and Raven.
I’ve worked as a paralegal and that hasn’t gotten me off of jury panels. I’ve been the victim of a a robbery (a guitar was stolen from me at a student center in college). The thing that did get me excused from a jury panel was when I told the judge and the attorneys that I had worked for Matthew Bender in the trial and evidence book division. I was a copy editor and proof reader. The case was a slip-and-fall in a grocery store. I knew more than the average person about rules of evidence and about slip-and-fall cases in particular.
@Iowa Old Lady: So did I. I became an adult in ’76.
@Botsplainer: One quibble: the children are not Ex children. He can divorce the wife and she becomes an Ex but the children are always his children, you know because of the blood relation and DNA and stuff. (I don’t think that can be changed; although he could give up all parental rights but they are still the product of his seed.)
@Iowa Old Lady: Wait a minute, you said “seen”, yeah 2 drunk guys wrestling counts.
@PurpleGirl: Don’t tell that to my step-daughter. She’d give you an argument that you’d lose.
I’m not little, but I was a nerdy kid before nerds were cool.
Good news, Monarch butterflies are finally getting some long overdue attention from the USFWS. It’s only $2 million, and I doubt it is anywhere near enough, but it is a start.
He’d lost his parental rights – completely severed – because he’d been such an abusive asshole during the marriage. The guy was a total thug.
I spotted him driving on my residential street a few days after the courthouse incident. I immediately contacted his lawyer and made a promise that I won’t repeat here (he used to stalk her previous lawyer, called the guy’s wife and parents, walked up to glare at him in restaurants and malls, etc.). Anyway, I guess my opposing colleague reluctantly conveyed my promise, because he signed off on a permanent injunction the next day and we never heard from him again.
@OzarkHillbilly: I know that many men see the children as “ex’s” and no longer want to be responsible for supporting them financially. I consider them bastards and louses. (One ex-boyfriend of mine was a louse about some things but he did financially support the children of his first marriage.)
@Botsplainer: Oh, okay, then yes, I guess the kids can be considered ex’s.
@Betty Cracker: Maybe people thought it would keep them off the jury. They also asked if people had strong opinions one way or the other on weed legalization.
@Baud: I was/am nerdy and am 5’4″.
@PurpleGirl: This jerk-off was so bad my step-daughter disinvited him from her wedding. My wife hired a couple cops for security because both she and her daughter were afraid he’d try crashing it. 3 years gone and nobody has heard from him since.
I’m not sure how “physical confrontation” is being defined here, but about 7 years ago, a guy kicked in my apartment door thinking it was empty. When I came running into the living room to see what the noise was, he turned and ran out. My cortisol levels wouldn’t have been any higher if he’d actually laid hands on me.
@debbie: The prosecutor was pretty clear that he was talking about a fight. Your situation was awful and I’m glad he took off instead of anything else.
Isnt Burnsie a Tar Heel?
@raven: I’m pro weed legalization but firmly anti-home invasion. And I’ve never been in a physical conflict. But then again, no one expects me to :)
Just for you, Anne Laurie…..At 3 pm yesterday, the temp outside my door was 82. This morning the songbirds are busy at it. I distinctly hear a Northern Cardinal. I also hear what sounds like a Yellow-throated Warbler.
Anonymous At Work
Calling BS on one thing: Bear Bryant starting recruiting black players before getting run over, he couldn’t play them because “true freshmen” weren’t allowed to play. And he scheduled the game with USC so he could get run over by a black player and convince his boosters that that was the future.
@raven: Would being robbed at gunpoint / knifepoint have counted?
@Betty Cracker: That was certainly one of the questions asked.
@Anonymous At Work: True dat.
Paul in KY
@OzarkHillbilly: My last ‘physical’ confrontation was when I was 20 years old. Got in fight with someone over a pinball game.
Paul in KY
@Keith G: The women in pool probably hadn’t been in too many ‘physical’ fights.
Paul in KY
@Punchy: Boy, that will get him in here…
Iowa Old Lady
@OzarkHillbilly: Oh, I see. The question was have you “been in” a confrontation as an adult. So that would be a no from me.
One time at work, a guy was photocopying a book and another guy rushed in with handouts he needed for class in a few minutes. He asked if he could go first, and the book copying guy said no. They slugged it out right there in the copy room. I didn’t see it, but I wish I had. They were both jerks.
@Iowa Old Lady: You ever see Jesus’ Son?
they are PHUCKING OUT OF CONTROL!!
Mississippi couple asks FBI for help after cops allegedly point guns at autistic 6-year-old son
09 Feb 2015 at 20:38 ET
A Jackson, Mississippi couple is seeking federal help after local police allegedly drew their guns at their 6-year-old autistic son, WBRC-TV reported.
Angela Thompson Roby said the incident happened while officers from the Ridgeland Police Department were executing a search warrant on Friday against her 23-year-old brother, Carneigio Gray, inside their mother’s home.
“My son was telling the police officers to stop, to not do that, please don’t hurt his uncle,” she told WBRC. “That’s when the guns were drawn on him and my mother was telling them, ‘Hey please don’t point your gun at my grandbaby. Please don’t do that.’”
No. (You must be a NC State fan…)
Dean Smith retired before the paper-only AFAM courses started.
they are PHUCKING OUT OF CONTROL!!
Family asks cops to check on 74-year-old vet after surgery, and they break in and kill him
09 Feb 2015 at 10:57 ET
State officials in North Carolina have launched an investigation after a police officer in Gastonia shot and killed a 74-year-old man while performing a welfare check.
Gastonia police Chief Robert Helton explained at a press conference on Sunday that a family member had asked officers to check on James Howard Allen on Saturday afternoon, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Helton said that Allen’s family had asked for the welfare check because the 74-year-old veteran had recently undergone surgery.
An officer first visited Allen’s home at 10:20 p.m. on Saturday, but there was no answer.
Gastonia police then contacted the Gastonia Fire Department and Gaston Emergency Medical Services at 11:30 p.m. and a “decision was made to enter the house, concerned that he may be inside in need of emergency assistance,” Helton said
jake the antisoshul soshulist
I did not realize that Smith was that much in the forefront of integrating college basketball. I will give some credit to E. A. Diddle at Western Kentucky. Unlike many of the coaches at the time who would bring in one African-American player, Diddle actually signed three in his first integrated recruiting class. There was Clem Haskins, the late Dwight Smith, and Mike Redd (who opted to play at
Division Two Kentucky Wesleyan). Many younger people have not heard the stories about the abuse that the players took, and not always on the road. Or the stories of everyone eating burgers on the bus, because the black players could not eat in the restaurants.
@Punchy: Oof, that’s gotta hurt!
eta my daughter may never attend UNC-CH but is, in fact, a Tar Heel by birth.
Iowa Old Lady
@raven: No. I just googled it. Is it worth watching or reading?
jake the antisoshul soshulist
@Anonymous At Work:
That was after C. M. Newton talked Bryant into allowing the basketball team to sign Wendall Hudson.
Recently, I read that barbers and cosmetologists get more training hour-wise than cops. It’s really beginning to show.
I haven’t heard anything about this…have you?
Bribery scandal puts Navy admiral moves on hold Christopher P. Cavas, Defense News 1:06 p.m. EST February 9, 2015
WASHINGTON — During a change of command and retirement ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy in July, Vice Adm. Mike Miller was ending a four-year tour as academy superintendent and retiring with honors after a 40-year career.
Except that when the festivities ended, Miller wasn’t allowed to leave the service just yet. Even though his official online biography reads “retired,” he’s still being carried on the Navy’s active-duty rolls — at a reduced two-star level. And although he has no specific job — or billet, in Navy-speak — he counts against the service’s allocated total of 219 admirals.
Defense officials said Miller is one of an estimated three dozen admirals under federal investigation for potential wrongdoing in the Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) case, also known as the “Fat Leonard” affair, after the nickname of the company’s leader, Leonard Glenn Francis.
Francis is in federal custody in San Diego and has admitted to numerous instances of bribery, influence peddling and corruption attempts. A number of naval officers and civilians already have been charged and some convicted, and the investigation, announced in mid-2013, is — by all accounts — showing no signs of slowing down.
Other admirals known to be caught up in the affair are Vice Adm. Ted Branch, the head of naval intelligence, and Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, the director of intelligence operations. Both officers were suspended by the Navy on Nov. 8, 2013 — with their security clearances revoked — pending the outcome of the investigations. No outcomes have been announced.
@Punchy: only in his nightmares
Unless you’re one of those rare, “bad apple” cops.
Thank you for the write-up about Smith. I didn’t know about his personal convictions. I’m especially impressed that he set aside some of the Nike money to support his players. That’s really remarkable, and an example the world could use more of.
I didn’t need any more reasons to root against Duke, but now I have some.
@Iowa Old Lady: Oh yea, Iowa City in the 70’s!
@Punchy:He’s a rabid alumnus of Duke I believe, pretty sure he wears sunglasses during the day so he doesn’t have to see that the sky is Carolina Blue….
@Cephalus Max: False.
If you don’t think that Dean Smith had kids in sham classes, you’re kidding yourself. So did/does every major coach out there today. Period. He’s still a good coach and seems to have been a good guy.
@A: Grow up. You mean the guy down the road who also graduates players at an exceptionally high rate, practices what he preaches in the way of molding young men to be responsible members of society after basketball ends, and wins a lot of games to boot? Surely you don’t think the fact that he’s unapologetically a conservative means he can’t be a good person as a general matter the way a known progressive like Smith was. Right?
@john b: Do you have proof of this with respect to other major coaches? There’s a difference between easy grade courses and no-show classes.
Not even remotely, but I don’t mind conceding that Coach Smith was a great coach and a better man.
@MCA1: “easy grade” is pretty much a sham class to me. Maybe not to the NCAA, but they’re a joke anyway and seem not to care much about their big name programs anyway, as long as they keep bringing in the $$$.
@MCA1: ETA, perhaps I misinterpreted Cephalus’ point on first read. IIRC, Debbie Crowder didn’t start converting easy lecture course into no class courses at UNC until after Smith was retired. I don’t think that scandal hurts or would hurt Smith’s legacy much, anyway. Knowing what we know about his past and politics, I trust he would have been appalled to know players were being cheated of the education they were supposed to be getting, as well as by the way a scandal like the one UNC now faces would be seized on by those with lingering racial resentments.
@john b: I get all that, but then I think you have more of a 30,000 foot problem with collegiate athletics (one with which I sympathize in some respects). But there are easy A lecture courses at every university, even elite ones, that even non-athlete students so inclined can stuff their schedule with, within reason. There are also multiple majors at every university that tend to have a lot of lecture and paper-weighted courses and attract students who’d rather not be challenged much. That’s a different thing entirely from the sort of organized, widespread fraud that occurred at UNC from about ’99 until pretty recently. There was collusive behavior among actual profs and academic advisors to athletes, fixing grades in no class courses for the specific purpose of maintaining athletic eligibility minimum GPA’s. To just blanket state that goes on everywhere (for decades at a time and covering thousands of student athletes) is way off the mark.
@burnspbesq: Seconded. Sorry to disappoint those who just assume Duke fans and alums are incapable of understanding Smith the human being through the rage of our tribalism.
@MCA1: I think we’re in agreement. But to pretend that Dean Smith was some paragon of educating athletes seems pretty naive. And I don’t mean to disparage him at all. It is how things are done. And since he left things definitely got worse with regards to academics for scholarship athletes at UNC. And I really wish that UNC athletics would suffer some real consequences for demeaning the rest of the university’s reputation (which they have).
@MCA1: Yes, that’s right. Thank you for the correction.
I don’t really think we should blame the athletics at UNC for hurting the university’s reputation, though that’s certainly what’s happening in the media and discussions like this on the intertubes. Or put another way, I think I’d agree with your earlier comments suggesting the b.s. that was happening in UNC athletics’ “academic support” system for “student-athletes” is almost certainly happening in one form or another at every Division I school. Or put yet another way, the NCAA Division I revenue sports system is a festering mess that’s hurting every participating university’s reputation (or should be). It ought to be burned down and rebuilt from scratch.
What was shocking at UNC was that a single academic department chairman (Nyangoro) and his department manager (Crowder) went completely off the rails, engaging in longstanding, willful academic misconduct. Unbelievably it appears that they were actually motivated by the thought that they were somehow “helping” struggling students — some who were athletes, some who weren’t. Regardless of their motivations, their ethical laxity was gleefully exploited by the athletic academic support and advising staff, who were doing exactly what they do at every Division I school — working the system to keep the athletic stars eligible to play.
As a proud Carolina alumnus and occasional (adjunct) instructor at UNC, what absolutely infuriates me — and to my mind, what should be hurting the school’s reputation — is that the UNC College of Arts and Sciences allowed this kind of misconduct to go on for so long. Sure, I can buy that Nyangoro and Crowder were apparently some improbable combination of completely nuts and extremely ethically confused. Every bag of apples will have one or two rotten ones. But that the College let them run amuck, and for years? I can’t accept that.
Reading the Wainstein report and its appendices (and I’ve slogged through every word), it’s not clear exactly how much the College’s senior administration knew about what was happening, but so what…? Either the various deans knew and looked the other way, or they didn’t know, in which case there was an absolutely insane lack of appropriate oversight. My reading of the report leads me to believe there was some awareness that something was amiss in the AFAM department, but they didn’t know the full extent. Doesn’t matter…it was horrible academic mismanagement. In my opinion the entire College leadership should have been publicly canned: heads should have rolled and the university should have said, loudly and repeatedly, “We f—ed up, badly, and we’re sorry.”
That’s the scandal. The athletic side of it is just business as usual in the NCAA.
Ha ha. I think I’ve killed the thread, but I’ll chime in one last time to say it goes both ways… It also surprises many that a true-Carolina-blue Tarheel fan such as myself (a) doesn’t really have anything at all against Dookies (much as I love it when we beat you), and (b) is entirely willing to admit that Krzyzewski is an insanely great coach.