Dean Smith was the head coach of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels for over thirty years. He had 879 wins, made 11 final four appearances, 8-time ACC Coach of the Year, and won 2 National Championships. But his impressive stats spanning his entire forty year coaching career are not what had me Hooked Till the Credits, instead it was the man that was Dean Smith’s character and how he treated his players that had me watching the Showtime Documentary until the final credits rolled.
Coach Smith was the type of coach that made sure that every player was treated equally. While Michael Jordan was playing for him, Coach Smith was criticized for not letting Jordan run the court but that just wasn’t Coach Smith’s coaching style. He taught his players lessons on the court that would easily apply to their lives off the court. How many times when watching an NBA game have you seen a player after making a sick basket cockily point at the guy that gave them the ball? Not very often right? Well with the Tar Heels under Coach Smith that was a requirement, you had to always thank the passer because it was important to acknowledge the guy who helped you score (totally applies in the real world).
Coach Smith also believed that players could decide when they wanted to leave the game. All they had to do was put their fist in the air and Coach Smith would have a substitute for them, once a player had rested and was ready to go back in they let him know and put themselves back in the game. This makes players hold themselves accountable because if they’re tired than they can’t play at their best which isn’t fair to their teammates. Now, if a player was playing poorly Coach Smith would take them out of the game and it would most likely be awhile before they would be entering the game.
But besides the lessons that Coach Smith instilled in his players like Michael Jordan, James Worthy, and the countless others that had me watching the documentary. It’s the way in which his players talked about him and the time they spent playing for him. None of his players had a bad word to say about him because Coach Smith cared about them, saw them as more than just basketball players. His players trusted his judgment so much so that they would seek him out well after leaving UNC to get his advice on things happening in their lives. Coach Smith would take time to write personal messages at the end of his form letters asking about players’ families.
Coach Smith was one of those rare coaches that understood his unique position in the lives of the young men he coached. He was more than just their head coach, he was the man that was responsible for helping them grow and mature (as many do in their college careers). He knew that he could teach his players lessons that would not only make them successful on the court, but also successful in business and life.
I highly suggest watching “Dean Smith ‘Some Men Transcend the Game'” because not only will you learn a lot about the man that helped shaped Michael Jordan, but you’ll learn a lot about how to be a better human being thus making those around you want to help you succeed. I also suggest reading “The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons from a Life in Coaching” that highlights even more of Coach Smith’s on the court lessons that apply to real life.