Former UNC basketball standout Kenny “The Jet” Smith recently told a Dean Smith story that Tar Heel fans definitely want to hear!
After his playing days concluded, Kenny “The Jet” Smith has become a very popular sports commentator, most notably as a basketball analyst for TNT.
At this point in his career, Smith is usually the one asking the hard-hitting questions to interview subjects, most notably some of the best current basketball players in the world. However, there are still instances where the former UNC basketball standout makes appearances to talk about his playing days, most notably his time in Chapel Hill.
As a guest on the “All The Smoke,” hosted by former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson and presented by Showtime Basketball, Smith was asked about legendary North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith. The former Tar Heel went on to tell a very unique story that shows what type of person his former head coach was.
Trust us, you’ll want to take a few minutes to listen to this story.
One of the best Dean Smith stories you’ll EVER hear
— SHOWTIME Basketball (@shobasketball) June 3, 2022
Smith started by saying that playing for Dean Smith was like “playing for Gandhi.” He went on to tell a story that revolved around his teammate, Makhtar N’Diaye.
After beginning his collegiate career at Michigan, N’Diaye transferred to North Carolina for his final two seasons of eligibility. It seemed as if the Diourbel, Senegal native was having a tough time in practice, which led assistant coaches, most notably Bill Guthridge, to get on his case, which ultimately led to them throwing him out of the team’s practice.
Once practice concluded, the Tar Heels head coach asked N’Diaye if everything was alright, trying to see if there was anything personally bothering the talented big man (such as homesickness). N’Diaye insisted that everything was fine, but would not look his head coach directly into the eyes.
Smith insisted that N’Diaye looked him in the eyes while speaking to him, but he simply would not budge. Finally, N’Diaye gave Smith the reason as to why he would not abide by what his coach was asking of him.
In N’Diaye’s culture, it’s viewed as a sign of disrespect to look an adult in the eye. Of course, Smith, once learning of this cultural fact, understood, and the conversation seemed to end.
However, Dean Smith did not just let this go.
Kenny Smith goes on to note that Guthridge, the one who threw N’Diaye out of practice, was not at the team’s practice the following day. He then was not around for the next week of practices, which had everyone wondering where the Tar Heels assistant coach was.
Then, it all became clear.
N’Diaye received a call from his mother, who was in his home country of Africa at the time. She told her son that there was a man at the house who claims to be his assistant coach. His mother noted that she knew it wasn’t coach Smith but wasn’t sure who the man was.
The man was there for a week, and told N’Diaye’s mother that he was there to “learn their culture.”
Yes, coach Dean Smith sent one of his assistant coaches to Africa for a week to learn more about their culture.
If that doesn’t show you what type of man Dean Smith was, we’re not sure what will!
It is always amazing to hear stories about the legendary basketball coach, and it’s even more unique to hear behind-the-scenes types of tales that don’t typically get spoken of.
These types of stories go to show you why the UNC basketball family has developed into the special bond that still holds true to this day.
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