At halftime of North Carolina's drubbing of Virginia on Saturday afternoon UNC honored hall-of-fame players and coaches at halftime.
But the greatest among them was the smallest.
Billy Cunningham Robert McAdoo and James Worthy — three of the most renowned players to ever wear light blue — stood at midcourt but all eyes were on the short white-haired man patiently sitting at the end of the bench.
For once Dean Smith was not in the coach's seat. Saturday his was the last seat reserved for the most-anticipated starter the star of the show — the man who retired as the winningest coach in Division-I men's basketball history.
When his name was called Smith slowly reluctantly rose and walked to midcourt" to the loudest cheer of the evening.
""Big Game"" James Worthy" winner of three NBA titles and one NCAA championship bowed to the man who coached him through college. Ever the modest one Smith actually bowed back.
Cunningham" ""The Kangaroo Kid"" UNC's most prolific rebounder and fastest NBA coach to reach 200 and 300 wins, called for the crowd to make even more noise. All the while, Smith was backing away, trying to get out of the spotlight.
McAdoo took a leaf out of Michael Jordan's book and kissed the legendary coach, who then stood trying to direct the cheers towards his former players. But the crowd only had eyes for Smith.
Even Williams ran out briefly to join his fellow inductees and mentor before heading to the locker room for halftime.
I think bringing Robert back and James Worthy and Billy Cunningham" those players back I think it was extremely important" Williams said after the game.
It's not just talking about how to box out or fighting through a screen. It's the total development of our players and the total development of our program.""
And this season" eight of the most celebrated names in UNC basketball are listed on a banner hanging just to the left of the three rows of jerseys in the rafters. Joining McAdoo Cunningham Smith Williams and Worthy are Larry Brown Frank McGuire and Ben Carnevale.
Williams said the ceremony was a sort of prelude to next year" which marks the 100th year of North Carolina basketball.
""I think what is past is extremely important to our program. Next year we're going to have a celebration for 100 years of Carolina basketball" but we decided to add something today to make it this year" too.""
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