Around Kansas Dean Smith

(Deb) Good morning. Welcome to Around Kansas, I’m Deb Bisel. You know the flags were flying at half-mast in North Carolina recently mourning the death of Coach Dean Smith, longtime coach of the University of North Carolina basketball. Dean is a Kansan. He was born in Emporia, grew up in Topeka where he played high school basketball at Topeka High. And of course went on to KU to play basketball there. It’s just a remarkable career. And his growing up in Kansas can be sen in so many ways other than basketball. You know he was coached by Phog Allen, of course one of the most legendary coaches in basketball. We talked about him recently, basically created coaching basketball. The fact that Dean Smith studied with him is truly remarkable. Dean was an incredible humanitarian. He campaigned for human rights. I had the pleasure of meeting him a few years ago when he came back to Topeka High and we had a panel discussion on segregation there at Topeka High. And while most of the school activities were integrated, the school itself was integrated, the men’s basketball was not. And Dean coached the white team. His good friend Jack Alexander coached the black team. It was just a really interesting discussion on what that had been like. And Dean campaigned long and hard for integration of sports and integration in all areas. In fact he recruited the first black basketball player to the University of North Carolina. While Dean was at Carolina in 36 seasons he racked up 179 wins and at that time held the record for the most wins. He took two NCAA Championship titles and of course he famously coached Roy Williams who was the long standing coach at KU before he went back to his home state of North Carolina. In remembering Dean Smith let’s lay claim to that great life and legacy that he left. And I think its important for all of us to realize that those great things he became had their roots in Kansas. And as I love to spread the gospel about how great Kansas is, its so important for us to remember kids are looking at the TV and they’re seeing all this praise heaped on people from all over the world, so many of them have roots right here. Dean Smith is a great example of that. Its a life well lived, a great competitor but a really wonderful individual. We’ll be right back.

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