Not long after after the news of Dean Smith’s passing, John Calipari posted the following message on social media:
Just a sad day for basketball to lose one of the great coaches of all-time in Dean Smith. Dean Smith was the most innovative and player-loved coach of his time. Just to give you an idea of how much I admired and respected Dean Smith, here’s what I wrote about him last summer.
It may seem crazy to think that something so logical as making it about the kids as innovative, but Dean Smith made it part of the foundation that we coach on today. You’ve heard me say many times that during the season it’s about our team but the minute it’s over it’s about each individual player. Well, I got that straight from Dean Smith. He spoke that way through the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s and he inspired me to do the same.
Dean Smith was the original players-first coach. He was the original coach who developed players, yet built a team and let those players drag the program. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do now.
Lastly, he mentions that it shouldn’t matter who Smith coached for, but what he contributed to college basketball:
Dean Smith was truly a great coach and it can be argued that he was the best at what he did. He is a great man that our fans — whether you like North Carolina or not — need to know and remember. He impacted our game and our program in so many ways and I can’t thank him enough for making such an impact on how we do things at the University of Kentucky.