WNCN special: The legacy of UNC's Dean Smith

WNCN special: The legacy of UNC's Dean Smith

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -

Former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith won games, awards, titles – and the deep affection of those he led.

That's the legacy of Smith, a legacy WNCN's Penn Holderness and Pam Saulsby explored Wednesday night in a live special from the Smith Center. The special aired the day Smith was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in Washington.

The award honored Smith for contributions beyond the court, which included his leadership during the civil rights era.

His former players and coaches said Smith emphasized treating everyone with respect.

"What he taught his players every year was about freedom," UNC coach Roy Williams said.

Holderness and Saulsby interviewed a wide variety of people with close ties to Smith. Saulsby went to Smith's home to talk to his wife, Dr. Linnea Smith, in a rare personal interview about the coach.

Holderness spoke at length to those at UNC, including Williams, former UNC coach Bill Guthridge, former players Phil Ford, Hubert Davis and Eric Montross and longtime announcer Woody Durham. Former player Rusty Clark also shared his experiences with Smith.

Williams told Holderness about a time Williams was in Smith's office, and Smith received a call about an honorary membership at a country club. Williams said Smith asked if the club would offer a similar deal to John Thompson, who is black.

Holderness also traveled to Duke University to interview coach Mike Krzyzewski, a former fierce rival of Smith's who became a good friend.

"When I heard the announcement about the award,  my wife and I just smiled and said, ‘How deserving,'" Krzyzewski said.

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