The Dean Smith story

At this point I’ll never catch up with all the people who have said nice things in one place or another about my Dean Smith story. It’s a great problem to have. As a writer, the one thing you want more than anything is for people to read your work and respond to it. So to anyone I’ve missed, or I might miss as I try to get back to people: Thanks. Your thoughts mean the world to me.

It takes a village to do a story like this — design, layout, photos, video, editing and copyediting and factchecking. I was in the hands of some incredible people at ESPN — especially my longtime friend Jena Janovy, who pulled all this together, and my new friend Jay Lovinger, who pointed the story in the right direction. Thanks to everyone up in Bristol.

This next part is more for my personal archives than anything else, but if you’re interested, here are a few interviews I’ve done since the story came out:

Only a Game from NPR

The Paul Finebaum Show from ESPN Radio (I’m in hour 2 on March 6)

The David Glenn Show (I’m at the top of Hour 2)

Carolina Connection from the UNC J-school

The Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte

Adam and Joe on 99.9 FM in Raleigh

Also: Thanks to Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated and the folks with The Atlantic for putting the story among their favorites of the week. And a special thanks to Mark Johnson, the brilliant journalist with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, for highlighting the story on his blog.

There are so many great Dean stories that didn’t make the cut for this piece. While you’re here, let me share a couple.

Roy Williams told me this one: When Eddie Fogler, Dean’s longtime assistant, got his first head coaching job at Wichita State, Dean called a tailor in Wichita. (Yes, Dean somehow knew a tailor in Wichita.) Dean told the tailor to cut four or five new suits for Fogler so he’d look good on the sideline. But don’t tell him I’m paying for it, Dean said. Tell him you’re doing it as a welcome to Wichita. “I just happened to be in the room when he made the call,” Williams said. “Nobody would’ve ever known about it otherwise.”

One more quick one, from Barb Fordham, the widow of Dean’s close friend Chris Fordham: The Fordhams would sometimes drive Dean to games if they were close by. (He let the players be by themselves on the team bus.) One night they went to Raleigh to play N.C. State. The Wolfpack won. After the game, Dean got in the car, shrugged and said: “Well, at least we made some people happy tonight.”

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