It was the summer of 1982. The University of North Carolina fresh of a national championship and Michael Jordan was coming off a terrific freshman year. Yet, according to his Hall-of-Fame coach, the future face of basketball still had A LOT of work to do.
Here’s what Dean Smith had to say to his star-in-the-making:
Jordan certainly took the letter to heart. By his sophomore season his points-per-game jumped from 13.5 to 20.0 and his steals-per-game doubled.
The letter is an amazing piece of history and belongs in the Hall of Fame, if it’s not already.
Although the letter came out two years ago, it’s trending again on Reddit to the masses.
The letter is also a primary example as to why MJ and Smith had such a special bond. In fact, when Smith passed away in 2014, Jordan said that Coach Smith was one of the most important figures in his life.
“Other than my parents, no one had a bigger influence on my life than Coach Smith. He was more than a coach — he was my mentor, my teacher, my second father,” Jordan said. “Coach was always there for me whenever I needed him and I loved him for it. In teaching me the game of basketball, he taught me about life. My heart goes out to (Smith’s wife) Linnea and their kids. We’ve lost a great man who had an incredible impact on his players, his staff and the entire UNC family.”
Dean Smith head coach of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels stands with his former player Michael Jordan at Michael’s restaurant at the Dean. E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by North Carolina/Collegiate Images/Getty Images)
But wait, there’s more!
Also circulating online is this letter to Jordan from Coach K after Jordan chose UNC over Duke. Coach K was in his very first year coaching at the North Carolina school — the ultimate UNC rival.
I not only wonder how many schools heavily recruited Jordan, but how many coaches sent a letter back so classy.
At the end of the day it was a win-win for Jordan. When Smith retired in ’97, he was the winningest coach in college basketball history with 879 wins.
As for Coach K? He is now at 1071 wins, now the most all-time. He also got to coach Jordan in the Olympics in 1984 and 1992.
The moral here? Even Michael Jordan had to work incredibly hard, day-in and day-out, to become the greatest player on the planet. And he surrounded himself with mentors who could only bring out the best in him.
University of North Carolina guard Michael Jordan wags his tongue as he dribbles the basketball past a North Carolina State defender. January 13, 1982.
Josh Helmuth is the editor of Crave Sports.