North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith dead at 83

Sun Feb 8, 2015 2:56pm EST
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By Kevin Murphy

(Reuters) - Dean Smith, the legendary University of North Carolina basketball coach who won two national titles, led the U.S. team to an Olympic gold in 1976 and helped develop NBA great Michael Jordan, has died at the age of 83.

Teams coached by Smith, who died on Saturday at his home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, won two NCAA championships, including the 1982 title with a squad led by Jordan, who went on to a Hall of Fame career with the National Basketball Association's Chicago Bulls.

Smith won 839 games as North Carolina's head basketball coach over his 36-year career. He took his team to 11 Final Four appearances in the NCAA Division 1 tournament, which UNC won in 1982 and 1993.

Smith, whose death was announced by the university, was named to the Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2013, he was honored by President Barack Obama with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His wife accepted the medal on his behalf.

The family had announced in 2010 that Smith suffered from a neurological disorder that affected his memory.

Smith recruited the first black scholarship athlete to North Carolina, Charlie Scott, and helped integrate a restaurant and a neighborhood in Chapel Hill, Obama said at the ceremony.

"Coach Smith showed us something that I've seen again and again on the court – that basketball can tell us a lot more about who you are than a jumpshot alone ever could," the president said in a statement on Sunday.

Jordan, considered one of the best players ever, said that no one except his parents had a bigger impact on his life.   Continued...

Former University of North Carolina players Sam Perkins, James Worthy, and Michael Jordan, along with former North Carolina head basketball coach Dean Smith (L-R) watch a presentation honoring the 1957 and 1982 national championship teams at halftime of the NCAA basketball game between North Carolina and Wake Forest University in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in this file photo taken February 10, 2007.  REUTERS/Ellen Ozier/Files