When I was 4 years old, I thought Dean Smith was President of the United States.
I was attending Binkley Baptist Church with my sister and my parents. I dreaded going to the weekly service and was one of those kids who would scribble all over the guest forms located on the back of our wooden chairs with the red seats.
One day, as I was sulking and writing on one of those pieces of paper, Dean Smith walked past me, asking for me to move out of the way. It was a regular gesture, but I was a sensitive child and stewed about it for the rest of the service. I remember leaving that day and telling my parents, “I don’t care if he’s the President of the United States, I won’t shake his hand.”
I can’t tell you why I thought he was the President. But my dad had told me stories about Smith’s legacy as a head coach and my young, naive brain just put two and two together.
Over the next few years, I became an avid UNC basketball fan. I watched every game, even though the last two years of the Matt Doherty era were certainly not worth watching. But my favorite Tar Heel figure was the one I once thought was the President.