4 Quotes That Personify the Late Great Dean Smith

Today would have been Dean Smith's 86th birthday.  The legendary North Carolina coach led the Tar Heels to two National Championships in 1981-82 and 1992-93. He won 13 ACC Tournament championships, made 11 Final Fours, and appeared in 23 consecutive NCAA tournaments. His tenure at UNC had him coach NBA greats including Michael Jordan and James Worthy, and he has left a lasting impact on the game of basketball. 


The man was a great coach. After all, his Four Corners offense led to the implementation of basketball's shot clock, and he was the first UNC head coach to offer an African American player a scholarship. His career record of 879-254 is one of the best in college basketball history. North Carolina went as far as to name their basketball court after him, the Dean Smith Center. 


Not only did he achieve success on the court as a coach, Dean Smith made others successful. He was intelligent and passed wisdom on to his players. Smith was known for his eye opening speeches, leading to some notable quotes. Here are four quotes that personify the late, great,  Dean Smith.

4. "Basketball is a beautiful game when the five players on the court play with one heartbeat."

Dean Smith was a coach who loved to stress teamwork. He cared about the team more than the individual, every single time. Nothing made Coach Smith happier than beautiful team basketball resulting in open shots or good looks inside. In a mentality where teamwork was everything, this quote exemplifies Dean Smith as a coach. 

3. "If you make every game a life and death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot."

This quote shows that while Dean Smith coached for 36 years at UNC, he understood that basketball was not a life or death matter. It's rare for a team to go undefeated, and Smith didn't want his guys kicking themselves over a loss. At the same time, over-celebrating a win can be a problem as well. A win is great, but it's not life. A loss is bad, but it's not death. This is just part of what made Smith such a relatable figure. 

2. "You should never be proud of doing what's right. You should just do what's right."

Dean Smith was a man of morals. Being a good person was very important to Smith, and he aimed to implant that into his players. Smith believed that people should just naturally do the right thing, rather than doing the right thing in hopes of being rewarded or praised for it. The same notion can apply to the basketball court, where players should be hustling and boxing out on every single possession, without expecting praise. 

1. "What to do with a mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it."

Mistakes are natural, and they are okay so long as you realize you messed up and are willing to learn from it. Hanging your head over a mistake on the court will throw off your game, and displays the inability to shake off a past play. Smith understood that mistakes were going to occur, and he urged his players to follow those four steps in order to better themselves after a mistake was made.