Tag Archives: Dean Smith

The latest installment of the Daddy Chronicles, featuring a mostly-crawling 6-month old; Dean Smith’s final gift a great one, and the crying Villanova piccolo player gets on Fallon

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It’s been a little while since I’ve written about my little guy, and as every day goes by he changes just a little bit.

It really is amazing that he’s almost 7 months old now; it feels like last week my wife and I took him home from the hospital, looked at each other and said “OK, what do we do now?”

Some thoughts from my Stay-At-Home Daddy brain lately:

— While my boy is not full-on crawling yet, he’s pretty damn close. He’s been Army crawling for a few weeks now, and I recently got a very important lesson about how mobile he’s getting. I put him down on his mat one morning, then went to go brush my teeth.

I come out 90 seconds later and he’s all the way near our kitchen table, a good 10 feet from where I left him. I came out and said “Hey!” and he just looked at me like, “What? I’m crawling here!)
My first thought? “How in the heck did he get that far that fast?” My second thought was: Yeah, I need to take him with me everywhere in the apartment unless he’s strapped in somewhere.”

— As you can surmise from the photo above, we’ve started solid foods with him in the past 2 weeks. It’s been fascinating to me how one night he loves the rice cereal/breastmilk combo, then the next night, meh, it’s not for him. I tried explaining to him that it’s the exact same food he loved last night, but for some reason he didn’t get it.

— Had a scheduled playdate with another baby on Tuesday (and his Dad, obviously the baby’s not scheduling his own stuff yet).
It got cancelled on us at the last minute. And I was suddenly feeling like I was single again and got stood up by a girl while I was at the movie theater, having already bought the tickets and the popcorn.

Am I weird for feeling like that?

— My boy’s new favorite thing? When Daddy hoists him up in the air and says “Whee!” Brings a smile every time (and with him being 16 pounds now, a great arm workout for me).

— Finally, it’s amazing how he looks different, older or  younger, depending on what outfits he’s wearing. I wish that were still true for grown-ups.

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**Next up, the late, great Dean Smith continues to have a huge impact on the lives of those he coached, and so many more.

But with his will recently being read and executed, we’ve learned he made one final, heartfelt gesture to all those who played for him.

According to Smith’s will, he bequeathed a $200 check be sent to every letterman he coached at University of North Carolina, so they can “enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.”

Two hundred bucks, times 184 players Smith coached over 36 years, adds up to about $36,000.
What a class act Dean was, even in death.

**Finally today, I loved this story so much, because it shows the power of the Internet, and a mensch of a talk-show host, to do good.
Saturday night, top-seeded Villanova was upset by North Carolina State in the NCAA Tournament. In the game’s final moments, as they always do in these situations, the TV cameras scanned the Villanova fans, cheerleaders and band, looking for distraught faces to broadcast to millions.

And of course, the cameras stopped on Roxanne Chalifoux, a Villanova piccolo player, tears streaming down her face while she valiantly plays on.

Instantly, it became a viral sensation on Twitter and Facebook, and poor Roxanne was embarrassed, though most of the jokes I saw weren’t mean-spirited.

Well, Jimmy Fallon’s producers saw the famous clip, and invited Roxanne to sit in with The Roots on Monday, and also gave her tickets to see her favorite star, Taylor Swift.

Just a very cool, classy move all around (also watch the above clip for an awesome meme starring Roxanne and Joe Biden.)

 

R.I.P. Dean Smith, a giant on and off the court. Animals frolicking happily in great new commercial. And some thoughts on the Grammys.

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During my years as a sports journalist, I had the opportunity to meet hundreds of athletes, coaches and administrators, as well as many non-sports celebrities.

Most of them were perfectly nice, decent people. A few were Grade-A jerks.

Not one of them ever had the class, grace, and humility of Dean E. Smith, the legendary coach of the University of North Carolina basketball team.

Dean died Saturday night at age 83, after a long decline due to dementia. I’ve written about Dean, a man I admired as much as anyone I’ve ever met, before on this blog, here and here., and there were a ton of fantastic tributes to him published Sunday (I highly recommend Alexander Wolff’s on SI.com, and this great Tommy Tomlinson story from last year.)

Many of those tributes talk about Smith’s incredible coaching acumen, his invention of the Four Corners offense, the trips to the Final Four, and his two national championships.
But what’s so more important about the life he lived was what he did off the court. He fought tirelessly for civil rights in North Carolina, long before he was famous and successful and people had to pay attention to him. He battled and spoke out against the death penalty and segregation; battled for women’s rights, and myriad other causes he believed in.

He had an incredible memory for names and facts, he was a master motivator (he’d tell nervous players in the huddle late in close games, “Hey, a billion people in China don’t care who wins”)

There were so many great Dean anecdotes about who he was, but this one, from the NBA’s Reddit page from an unattributed source, might be my favorite.

Way back in 1958, when Dean Smith was just an assistant coach at UNC, he was angry that restaurants in Chapel Hill were still segregated. He decided to make a statement by walking in to a eatery he knew, sat down with an African-American player, and ate a meal. And a blow for desegregation had been struck.

When it was brought to Dean years later that he should be proud of what he did, this was his response.”

“You should never be proud of doing what’s right,” Smith said. “You should just do what’s right.”

Dean Smith’s death is not a loss for college basketball. It’s a loss for humanity.

Rest in peace.

**Next, this ought to put a smile on your face. The Android company has put out a new ad that has gone viral very fast, with more than 4 million hits already. It’s just footage of different animals from the kingdom, frolicking and, well, getting into some interesting situations.

Adorable.

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**Finally, a couple quick thoughts on Sunday night’s Grammy Awards, my annual attempt to reconnect to today’s music and extricate myself from my 1980s and early ’90s musical dungeon I happily reside in the rest of the year:

— I’m just asking: When did LL Cool J become to the Grammys what Billy Crystal and Bob Hope were to the Oscars? I mean, is he just the permanent host now?

— Sam Smith and Adele both say “Fank You” and it’s kind of adorable.

— Madonna is 56. And damn, she’s still got it. What an amazing performer she still is.

— I’m not a Katy Perry fan, but her performance, preceded by a domestic violence survivor telling her story, was powerful.

— The Grammys always have some bizarre-looking celebrity outfits, but Jesse J’s dress looked like it was pasted together by a drunk 3rd-grader in art class.

— Kanye West: Could he be a bigger tool? He tried to interrupt Beck like he did Taylor Swift at the VMAs all those years ago. His ego knows no bounds.

– I hate the Bee Gees more than I’ve ever disliked any other musical act, ever. But hey, give ’em a lifetime achievement award, lots of other people liked them.

— A week ago, New England Patriots defensive back Malcolm Butler was a rookie from West Alabama, playing in his first Super Bowl and completely anonymous to 99 percent of the world. Seven days later he’s a Super Bowl champ and on stage presenting a Grammy.
America, what a country,

— Last year’s Grammys, with the incredible Ryan Lewis/Macklemore/Queen Latifah same-sex wedding ceremony at the end, was pretty impossible to top. But I thought Sunday night’s were pretty good.

Another great school instruments song from Fallon and the Roots. The great Dean Smith, fading away. And I vent after a despicable Duke loss

Lefty Driesell, Tim James, Dean Smith

I’ve written about Dean Smith a bunch of times on this blog over the years, which might seem odd coming from a huge Duke fan (more on them later).

It’s just that along with Billie Jean King, Dean is the classiest individual I’ve ever had the privilege of interviewing, and it’s been such a shame reading and hearing about his battle with dementia over the past few years.

Mostly, the stories about this incredible basketball coach’s failing mind have been rumors and whispers, without much coming from his inner circle.

But now Tommy Tomlinson, whose work I plug on here so often he ought to pay me, has penetrated that inner circle and written a heartbreakingly beautiful story for ESPN.com about the 83-year-old coaching legend.

So many of the stories about Dean’s dementia ring true to me, because I experienced it with my grandmother: A person who was once so sharp, so on top of everything, now unable to remember the simplest things. And just as cruelly, dementia leaves the body physically fine, so there’s no telling how long the sufferer has left to live.

Read Tomlinson’s story about a true American legend. It’s one of the best things I’ve read in a long time.

**Next up, you may have seen some of Jimmy Fallon’s “elementary school classroom” routine with songs before, where he and The Roots take a current hit song, bring in the singer, and perform it using only instruments you’d find in a grade-school music room.

It’s pretty hilarious every time, and it is again with Idina Menzel (or whatever John Travolta says her name is) singing her Oscar-winning hit from “Frozen.”

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**Finally, I freely admit that sometimes this blog is more “therapy” for me than entertainment for you.
That’s the case tonight, as it’s March, the NCAA Tournament is coming up, and I need to rant for a few hundred words after a pathetic, disgraceful, disgusting showing Wednesday night by my beloved Duke Blue Devils.

After a week between games, against a miserable Wake Forest team that has won ONCE in the past 10 tries, Duke fell behind early, rallied to take a seven-point lead in the second half, then completely imploded and lost by 10.
They went more than FIVE minutes without a basket in the final minutes. Quinn Cook, who used to be good, is more useless than a 1970s Dodge Dart at the point guard spot, dribbling and dribbling so damn much it’s like he thinks you get points for pounding the ball into the floor 403 times per possession.

Jabari Parker, the best player on the team by far, barely touched the ball in the final minutes. Rodney Hood is still committing stupid fouls, 35 games into his Duke career. Andre Dawkins can’t shoot anymore. No one on the damn team can shoot anymore.

When Marshall Plumlee is the lone bright spot, you know it’s a bad night.
So fed up with this team’s lack of heart. And lack of consistency. And K’s annual refusal to go deeper into his bench on nights like this, to see if someone, anyone might provide a spark.

Duke is soft on the interior, can’t hit 3’s anymore, and folds in the clutch. And has major problems at point guard. And plays the hottest team in America. the damn Tar Heels, on Saturday.
Other than that, everything’s great.
I can’t see this team making a run in March. Right now, a Sweet 16 appearance is all I can hope for. Just such a waste.

OK, I feel better now. Thanks.

The new Bob Dylan video is spectacular. How close the NFL really came to having an active gay player. And I tip my hat to Dean Smith, always a legend

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So there’s no way to sugar-coat this or oversell it: This new Bob Dylan video for “Like a Rolling Stone” is brilliant.

If you haven’t seen it by now, I’m surprised, because it’s been all over the Internet. But here it is, and it’s spectacular. It’s an interactive video; the whole video looks like a TV screen, and by using the up and down arrows on your keyboard, you can “watch” people singing the classic song in all different formats. There’s an old movie, a sports highlights show, a “The Price is Right” episode, and a whole bunch more people all singing the song perfectly in sync with each other.

I have no idea how it was done, but I keep watching it over and over. So cool. I really, really recommend clicking on it; it’s a dazzling example of the merger of a great old song and 21st century technology.

If you’re interested in how it was made, Rolling Stone interviewed the creators here.

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**I’m sure you all remember the media attention garnered last spring by Jason Collins, who became the first active male pro athlete in a major team sport to admit he was gay.
Collins, a longtime NBA center, was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and hailed for weeks as a hero, as he should’ve been.
Unfortunately, Collins isn’t an active player anymore; most distressingly, the free agent saw not one NBA team reach out to him for so much as a tryout in training camp this year, and as the season rolls on he remains unsigned.

(Now, I completely understand that he’s no LeBron; he’s an aging big man who was never that good in the first place, and teams are totally in their rights to ignore him because of his lack of ability. Still, I can’t believe a man as PR-conscious as NBA commissioner David Stern couldn’t find a way to get Collins in the league.)

Anyway, around the time Collins came out, there were also rumblings that several NFL players were going to come out of the closet together. How close did it really come to happening? Pretty damn close, as Mike Freeman, an excellent sportswriter (and fellow UD Blue Hen!) writes in this story. It was about to happen, and then one of the teams got gun-shy and it didn’t happen; they didn’t sign the player (My fellow Jets fans might recognize the profile and characteristics of one of the players mentioned; if it’s who I think it is, it’s not a surprise; he played with the Jets for several years about six years ago.)

Pretty sad that it’s late 2013 and NFL owners are general managers are still too afraid to actually have an out gay player on their roster. How much longer will it take?

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**Finally today, a few words about Dean Smith, the legendary University of North Carolina men’s basketball coach, who Wednesday was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Now as you may know from reading this blog, I’m sort of a big Duke basketball fan (ha), which of course means I hate everything Carolina blue.

But I can never, ever, ever say anything bad about Dean Smith. Of course I admire all that he accomplished at UNC, from his victories, to his principled stand on civil rights (he was a leader in helping integrate the school in the 1960s, and recruited black players long before most others did) to his absolute grace and dignity on and off the court.

But personally, I was lucky to have interviewed him 1-on-1 a few times, and he could not have been more gracious. I’ll never forget asking him a question at a press conference once, the first time I’d gotten to do that, and then seeing him months later at a charity event. He walked up to me and said “Hey Michael, how’ve you been?” like we were old friends.

Dean was all class, and it’s heartbreaking to know that now he’s quite ill, with significant memory loss (no one has quite said what’s ailing him, trying to protect his privacy, but it sure sounds like Alzheimer’s or dementia).

He’s one of the greats, and I’m glad he continues to be recognized for the giant life he has led.