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Dean Smith Saw Something Special in Jordan

Posted January 12, 1999

— As big of a star as Michael Jordan became, he never forgot his North Carolina roots.Former UNC Coach Dean Smithsays Jordan is not just one of his former players, but a friend.

Under Smith, Jordan led theTar Heelsto a title as a freshman. His jump shot clinched theNCAAchampionship in 1982.

North Carolina is known for tobacco, its number one cash crop, and Michael Jordan.

But with Jordan's mega-popularity, some people around here might put him ahead of tobacco, because while there are different types of tobacco leaves, there is only one Michael Jordan.

From the time he started lighting up the court atUNC, Jordan proved himself to be a shooting star.

Jimmy Black played with Jordan at UNC.

"Michael hasn't changed from dealing with the media to, obviously, dealing with his family. He's a genuine person," said Black.

That genuine quality made North Carolinians proud to call him a native son. Smith saw something in the lanky kid from a coastal North Carolina town, and the rest is history.

"He was the National Player of the Year in 1984, and we never dreamed in the next 14 years since then what he has accomplished in basketball," Smith said.

Jordan's career is the stuff hoop dreams are made of. Black says, he has only has one thing to say to Jordan.

"Thank you for giving not only myself, but to people throughout the country, the opportunity to witness something that is unique," Black said.

Back when they all played together at UNC, Black says he would not have picked Jordan as the one to watch.

At that point, he was picking James Worthy, who had a distinguishedNBAcareer as well.


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