Sunday, February 10, 2008

Guess Who I Met Last Night?

"Honey, you walked right passed him." I glanced over my shoulder, and saw John Edwards talking with a group of people. "That's okay," I said to Daryl, "I'll catch him in a little while." "No," Daryl insisted, "Stop. He's right there-Dean Smith-he's right there."

And, so it was that last night I got to meet Coach Dean Smith, and it was very cool.

When former Floridian Lauren Benedict called me this morning, I gushed about meeting Coach Smith, and she said, "Who's that?" I gasped. "He's the Dean of college basketball! He coached UNC for years. He recruited and coached the likes of Sam Perkins, Jimmy Black, Phil Ford, James Worthy, oh, and Michael Jordan. How can you not know who Dean Smith is???" Did I mention she's from Florida? Do they have college basketball in Florida?

Back to the point. I rarely fawn over celebrities, political or otherwise, but this was different. Growing up, I spent many an hour sitting in the living room with my father watching Smith coach the UNC Tar Heels. When I was very young, I shed real tears when UNC lost a conference game to then arch rival USC. (Yes, there was a time when the University of South Carolina was in the ACC.) If there were two sports figures my father taught me to revere, one was Dean Smith and the other was Hank Aaron-in that order. And, last night, there was the Dean of College Basketball, standing three feet from me. There was a certain synergy about the whole situation. It was my father who taught me to revere Coach Smith, and it was the working class values of my parents, in particular my father, that shaped my political leanings and activism. Probably, I would not have been in that place at all but for my father's influence, so to meet one of his heroes there seems just about right. I wish he could've been there, too.

No comments: