Sportsman of the Year


 

  COLLEGE YEARS, 1949-53
"Everyone understood that he was going to be a coach"

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Marilyn Towler went to this Fiji Island frat party with Smith but later ended up marrying his friend Bud Roberts.
photograph courtesy of Bud Roberts

Though he played basketball there, Smith went to Kansas on an academic scholarship. He joined a fraternity and majored in math. Smith played little as the Jayhawks won the 1952 NCAA title and were runners-up the following season. But during his time in Lawrence, the guard at the end of the bench established his place in basketball's genealogical line: The game's inventor, James Naismith, taught legendary Jayhawks coach Phog Allen, who taught Smith, who would in turn teach Michael Jordan. Smith never met Naismith, who died in 1939, but one Memorial Day he was among a group of Jayhawks who decorated Naismith's grave.

BUD ROBERTS:

Good things always seemed to happen to Dean. The summer before we left for college, about five of us worked at a cement plant, lifting and opening 100-pound sacks of cement. The owner of the company came over one day and said, "You're Dean Smith. I understand you pledged Phi Gam at Kansas. Well, I'm a Phi Gam." From then on Dean got to sit and read coaching manuals on top of a gravel pile, while we ripped open 100-pound sacks.

MARILYN TOWLER ROBERTS, a former girlfriend, now Bud Roberts's wife:

There was someone else who wanted to date Dean, and he decided that he couldn't handle two girls at one time, so he and Bud flipped a coin to see what he was going to do. So I started dating Bud, and Dean started dating this other girl.

RICH CLARKSON, sportswriter and photographer,
The Lawrence Daily Journal-World, 1951-57:

The Jayhawks bench had a strict pecking order. The trainer sat at the head of it, then Phog Allen, then Dr. Allen's assistant Dick Harp with the first substitute, the sixth man, sitting next to him, and so on down the line. Dean would start at the far end of the bench, but after a few substitutions, a few timeouts, things would start sorting themselves out, and eventually you'd see Dean sitting next to Coach Harp and Doc Allen. It was just understood that Dean was seeing things that he would want to mention. Everyone understood that he was going to be a coach.

Next: STARTING OUT, 1953-65  

Back to 1996 Sportsman of the Year
 

 

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