The most appropriate tribute to Dean Smith was one I never saw brought up by anyone in the 13 days since the Hall-of-Fame coach’s death.
And it was perhaps the most obvious of them all.
Smith, who built a titan at North Carolina, was an innovator in so many ways. His Four Corners offense, a sort of keep-away style that helped Smith beat many a team — to hair-pulling frustration of opponents — helped usher in the shot clock in college hoops.
Saturday afternoon vs. Georgia Tech marked the first Tar Heels home game since Smith’s passing.
On the first play, UNC coach Roy Williams flicked four fingers into the air. The rest of UNC’s bench stood up and mimicked Williams. On the floor, the five Tar Heel players (who wore throwback-style uniforms from Smith’s heyday) spread like billiard balls to each corner. Point guard Marcus Paige set up the offense, and big man Brice Johnson cut to the hoop.
North Carolina led, 2-0.
Best start to a game in program history.
Rest in peace, Dean Smith.