Mitch Kupchak, Lakers Mourn Loss Of UNC Legend Dean Smith

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at North Carolina

The basketball world lost a giant on Saturday with former University of North Carolina head coach Dean Smith passing away at the age of 83.

The Los Angeles Lakers franchise has a lot of ties to Smith and the University of North Carolina starting with longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak. The 60-year-old is a former Tar Heel that remained close to Smith and had this to say about his former coach and mentor in a statement from the Lakers organization:

“Coach Smith was one of the most influential people in my life, and his passing brings me great sadness, Kupchak said in press release from the Lakers on Dean Smith’s passing. “However, he was a great man and someone I loved and respected greatly, and I celebrate the fact that I knew him and had him in my life for as long as I did. His influence on my life didn’t end when I left Chapel Hill, as he was a trusted and valuable advisor to me when I became a player, then an executive in the NBA. He had a hugely positive impact on the lives of hundreds of young men who were lucky enough to call him Coach, and I was blessed to be among them.”

Five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant also showed some respect for Smith taking to Twitter and tweeting out in the following on Sunday:

Former Tar Heel Wayne Ellington also mourned the loss of the North Carolina on Twitter:

Hall of Famer James Worthy won a NCAA title alongside Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins back in 1982. It was one of two titles Smith won as the head coach of North Carolina with his second coming in 1993. Worthy tweeted the following about his former coach:

The Lakers have had their fair share of Tar Heels over the years. From Bob McAdoo, Worthy, Kupchak, Perkins, George Lynch and Rick Fox to current Lakers in Ellington and Ed Davis. North Carolina to Los Angeles has been common path for great players of the past and that could continue with Smith being a major reason for the school’s success.

Even Kobe admitted recently that would’ve gone to North Carolina had he chosen to go to college rather than jumping from Lower Merion High School straight to the NBA.

Smith is survived by his wife, Linnea, along with four daughters and one son.


Jeremy Lin On Tanking Talk, Lakers Struggles

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

You May Also Like

Lakers News: Luke Walton Believes Missed Shots Affected Lakers’ Mindset

The Los Angeles Lakers had a disappointing showing in their season opener as they fell to the Clippers 108-92…

Lakers Nation Video: Lockout Alternatives, TeamLA Store Sale

Although the NBA has officially entered a lockout with their league and…

Lakers News: Metta World Peace’s ‘Ultimate Goal’ Is Coaching On The NBA Level

Before the 2016-17 NBA season got underway for the Los Angeles Lakers, Metta World Peace future with the team was up in the air…

Lakers Weekly Recap: What Went Right, What Went Wrong During Push To Winning Record

The Los Angeles Lakers played three games this past week and won all of them, although they played poorly in the final contest against the weak Atlantic Hawks…