Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Call from Dean Smith

I got a call from Dean Smith the other day. Before you get too impressed, thousands of others in the area got it too. Dean, who is politically active and a Democrat, was encouraging people to come out for a John Edwards rally and birthday party. Since it was recorded, I couldn't ask him any of the questions I've built up over the years, like what was he thinking with that 7-0 1st half at Duke, or about getting T'd up in Reynolds in '83. I'm sure I've got better questions than that if I really think about it. Mabye something more along the lines of, how did your math and statistics background shape how you approached basketball. But I digress.

If you grew up in NC, it is hard to imagine anyone you respect more than Dean Smith. Richard Petty may have been just as popular, but somehow I think Dean was a little more respected. It was hard for me to ignore that call. I didn't make it to the rally, but it was hard to say no to Dean, even if it was just a recording.

I'm guessing Dean still has a lot of pull with Michael Jordan, and all of his former players. Dean is loyal, and has shown his loyalty to Phil Ford throughout the last 25 years. Phil was my favorite player as a child. While my first basketball memory is David Thompson, Phil was the guy I pretened to be shooting ball in the backyard with the rim nailed up on a tree. Much like Thompson, Phil had his troubles after college, cutting short his NBA career. So if Dean did call MJ, who is part owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, you have to believe the coaching vacancies came up. And you have to believe Phil was at the top of a long list of possible candidates Dean would have mentioned from his long list of former players.

Bobcats add Phil Ford

Former North Carolina point guard and New York Knicks assistant coach Phil Ford was named an assistant coach for the Charlotte Bobcats on Thursday.

Ford led the Tar Heels to the NCAA championship game in 1977 and won the Wooden Award as the nation's top player the following year as a senior. He later spent 12 years as an assistant at North Carolina under Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge, but also had problems off the court when he was arrested twice on charges of drunken driving.

Ford, 51, was let go when Matt Doherty replaced Guthridge as head coach in 2000. He had spent the past three years as an NBA assistant with Detroit and New York. Full Story...

It's no secret that the 1st mistake Matt Doherty made, and a clear sign of problems to come, was the move to fire all of Guthridge's staff. I remember clearly a look in Guthridge's eyes during the press conference when Matt was introduced that I read as pain over what would happen to his assistants. While it sounds like Phil had been working and landed on his feet, it will be good to have him back in the state.

The bobcats have a very interesting staff. Joining Ford is Jeff Capel (the dad, not the son) and Lee Rose. You may remember Rose as the coach of then UNCC (now Charlotte) and their magical 1977 run to the Final Four.


Anonymous said...

How old is Lee Rose!? Actually that's a pretty impressive staff that the Bobcats have put together. Capel has coached some D-league and Ford should pretty good at developing the guards... Just hope they can be respectable this year... doubt they will ever generate the buzz that the Hornets did during the 7 straight sell-out seasons.

Ken White said...

One good player and they might.

Went on a kind of posting blitz today. Had been really busy and was piling up stuff.