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Charlie Scott on Dean Smith: An interview

Dean Smith, seen here in 2010, left a lasting impression on countless players. He created a special bond with Charlie Scott, the first black scholarship athlete at UNC. ROBERT WILLETT

CHAPEL HILLDean Smith will be receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced on Thursday. The award is the highest honor a civilian can receive, and is “presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Smith is receiving the award in part because of all his teams accomplished on the court. The wins and the championships have been well-documented. The casual college basketball fan, though, might not understand Smith’s legacy off the court. His role as a civil rights advocate, his place as an outspoken social critic and as mentor to his players might be lost to those who only know Smith for basketball.

Smith’s relationship with Charlie Scott personifies a lot of Smith's attributes. Scott was the first black scholarship athlete at UNC, and he arrived in Chapel Hill in 1967 at a time when racial tensions were broiling in the South. Smith served not just as a coach to Scott, but as a calming influence in a world that at times seemed to be tearing apart. I had a chance to speak with Scott yesterday. Here'the story.

And here’s the interview:

Dean Smith to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Dean Smith, seen here in this 1982 News & Observer picture alongside Michael Jordan, Matt Doherty and Sam Perkins, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. ROBERT WILLETT

President Obama announced Thursday that former UNC basketball coach Dean Smith will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Smith and 15 others, including Bill Clinton, Ernie Banks, Sally Ride and Loretta Lynn, will get the award.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor, according to the White House, and is “presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Smith coached at UNC from 1961 through 1997, retiring after 36 seasons, 879 victories and two national championships, which the Tar Heels won in 1982 and 1993. He guided the Tar Heels to the ACC tournament championship 13 times, and he led UNC to 11 Final Fours. At the time of his retirement, Smith was the most victorious coach in college basketball history.

Mitchell Wiggins, father of Andrew, once dreamed of playing for Dean Smith

CHAPEL HILL — Who knows what kind of effect, if any, it has had on his son’s recruitment. But Mitchell Wiggins, the father of Andrew Wiggins, grew up outside of Kinston dreaming of playing for Dean Smith. Apparently, though, Smith didn’t show the elder Wiggins much interest.

North Carolina is certainly interested in Andrew Wiggins, who will announce his college decision on Tuesday. About 30 years ago, Wiggins’ father would have loved to be in the position his son is now – with a chance to play for the Tar Heels.

N.C. 54 restaurant can keep giant photos

An N.C. 54 restaurant emerged victorious Wednesday and will keep its larger-than-life photos of UNC coach Dean Smith and basketball superstar Michael Jordan.
Chapel Hill's Public Arts Commission voted unanimously that the window art does not fall under the town’s sign ordinance, land-use management ordinance or Community Design Commission rules.
Commission member Nancy Kitterman said it also doesn’t meet the town’s public art mural guidelines, because the photos are posted inside the Tobacco Road restaurant’s windows.
“If you put a giant sculpture on your front yard, I can see it every day. It’s your property. It’s your business, and basically, if I don’t like it, I don’t have to look at it,” she said.
The town’s review started with a Glen Lennox resident’s letter to the editor. Restaurant owner Brian Amra said the 12-foot by 22-foot vinyl photos block a view of the kitchen and will be there a long time.

Today in The Durham News

Here's a look at today's local headlines:

POLICE OFFICER SHOT: Still no word on the condition of the Durham police officer who was shot in the line of duty yesterday. His name was not released, but he was alert when taken to the hospital. This stiory broke too late for today's DN, but appears online and in the N&O. (Link here)

SOUTHERN DURHAM END RUN: Rebuffed by the City Council, the developers of 751 South are now talking to Chatham County about providing water to their proposed 1,300 home project near Jordan Lake. The irony? The water from Chatham would originate in Durham. Read correspondent Matt Goad's story. (Link here)

ART FOR DIABETES: If you've never done a Third Friday ArtWalk, now's the time. Correspondent Debbie Meyer reports how an exhibit opening Friday at Susan Frosch's Basement gallery on Chapel Hill Street was inspired by a friend's son living with the disease. (Link here.)

Do you drive into Chapel Hill each day? If you take NC 54 you've probably seen the giant window posters of Dean Smith and Michael Jordan. They're raising a ruckus in Chapel Hill (well, mostly a ruckus  of strong support). If you'd like to add your two cents, join the conversation on my Facebook page (link here) and you could see your comments in a future edition of the newspaper.

Today's Durham News also features a special 20 Questions contest. Test your knowledge of the current events of 2012 and you could win $25 worth of free tickets. Two winners will be chosen for most correct answers and one will be selected by random drawing just for entering. You have until Friday. Good luck!

And thanks for reading,


Today in The Chapel Hill News

A look at today's local headlines:

NEWTOWN CONNECTION: Thiscame too late for today's CHN but we report it online and in the N&O. One of the victims of the shootings in Newtown, Conn.,  6-year-old Catherine Violet Hubbard, was the niece of Matt Sullivan, an attorney for the Chapel Hill Police Department. Our condolences to Matt. Find out how you can honor Catherine's memory here.

BINGHAM FACILITY UPDATE: Neighbors of UNC's animal research complex in Bingham Township lost a bid for a public hearing last month. But the state has now given them a victory. Regulators want a lot more information on what contaminants are in the wastewater and have asked the university to consider scaling back the size of the spray fields. (Link here.)

NEW PRESERVATION HEAD: The Preservation Society of Chapel Hill has a new name and a new director. Cheri Szcodronskihas (left) succeeds Ernie Dollar as director of the newly named Preservation Chapel Hill. (Kinda like the name.) Read how she wants to link preservation with economic development. (Link here)

Today's issue also sees the return of a past popular feature, our end of year Current Events Quiz. Play 20 Questions and you could win $25 worth of free movie tickets.

My Facebook page is heating up with comments on those Dean Smith and Michael Jordan pics at East 54.  Tell us what you think on my FB page, here on our blog (with your name if you want your comments published in the CHN), at or by sending your comments to us at 505 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27516.

Thanks to those who have already sent in their Quiz answers (wow, that was fast!). You have until 5 p.m.this Friday. Good luck.

And thanks for reading,


Sunday in The Chapel Hill News

In case you missed it:

BIG MAN OFF CAMPUS: That giant poster of Dean Smith (and one of Michael Jordan) in the new Tobacco Road restaurant at East 54 has gotten the town's attention. Is it a sign? Is it art? Tammy Grubb has our story (repeated in today's N&O for readers who don't get the CHN). (Link here)

ARTSCENTER REBOUNDS: Back in the black, the ArtsCenter's latest financials are good news. But longtime concerts director Tess Ocana Mangum is out of a job after new director Art Menius decided the department had been losing money long enough. We have two stories. (Link here)

FIRE INSURANCE SAVINGS: Residents in the New Hope Fire District got their bonus checks early this year, when improvements in the fire department lowered their homeowners insurance. Find out how much in Tammy's story.  (Link here)

UNC professor Michele Berger joins our My View lineup with a column called "The Queen grows up." Welcome, Michele. The president of the Occoneechee Council says the Boy Scouts makes safety its top priority. And in Sunday's letters, readers sound off on traffic hazards, school redistrcting and whether the Carrboro Board of Aldermen is engaging in social engineering. Hmmm ...

As always, tell us what you think at And, thanks for reading,


When Dean Smith stood up for Bear Bryant

Sports Illustrated's Frank Deford visited The N&O recently and spoke warmly of Dean Smith, the former UNC basketball coach. But Deford, in town to promote his new book, "Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter," described an incident in which Smith would not be interviewed by Deford -- even though they'd had a good relationship for many years. 

Deford had just completed an article on Bear Bryant, the larger-than-life (in Alabama, anyway) Crimson Tide football coach who wore the houndstooth-check hat.  Bryant was at the end of his career (and life, it turned out). Deford mentioned in his article that the elderly Bryant frequently had to urinate.

'Bama Nation was infuriated that Deford wrote about The Great Man's bodily functions. So was Dean Smith, as Deford discovered a few months later when he ventured to Chapel Hill to write about Smith.

Smith flabbergasted Deford by telling him he would not talk for the article. But Smith didn't block others from talking with Deford. "Indeed, every day I was at Chapel Hill, I was graciously welcomed into his office, where we would exchange pleasantries, and then I would proceed to interview his assistants, his players, even his good friend the university chancellor," Deford wrote in his book.

Deford saw Smith over the years after his article came out. "...Our personal relationship remained exactly as it was before he thought I'd slighted Bear Bryant," Deford wrote. "It was as if that episode had never happened." --John Drescher








Tudor: Five UNC-State games to remember

The N.C. State vs. UNC basketball rivalry has been upstaged in recent seasons by the Tar Heels’ series against Duke.

But dating back to the earliest days of the ACC, the Wolfpack and Heels have staged as many unforgettable games as any other in the nation.

Coach K gets win No. 880 to pass Dean Smith

GREENSBORO - The horde of cameramen surrounding Mike Krzyzewski as he walked onto the court would have seemed more appropriate for a visiting head of state than a basketball coach.

But Krzyzewski was about to surpass one of the most sacred numbers in a sport that’s approached with religious fervor in North Carolina. Everything else took a back seat Wednesday night at the Greensboro Coliseum.

The game was never in doubt because top-ranked Duke and Krzyzewski entered the game undefeated, while UNC Greensboro was winless in 11 games. So all eyes were on Krzyzewski as he won his 880th game to move past former North Carolina coach Dean Smith into second place on Division I career coaching victory list.

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