Jul 30, 2012
You won't find any traces of Carolina Blue in the uniforms of the Charlotte Bobcats, but it is definitely a predominant color throughout the organization.
Ever since the Bobcats drafted former North Carolina Tar Heels Raymond Felton and Sean May in 2005, much has been made about the "Carolina Connection" in the Queen City. May and Felton have both moved on, but there is still a Tar Heel flavor to the franchise. It starts all the way at the top with team owner Michael Jordan. On the bench, Head Coach Larry Brown, as well as assistant coaches Dave Hanners and Phil Ford all played at North Carolina. Ford joined Adam Gold and Joe Ovies on 99.9-FM The Fan this week, and said that while there are differences between the college game and the pros , the Bobcats coaching staff still use several of the principles that they learned from legendary Tar Heel coach Dean Smith.
"I think Coach Brown is the best coach in pro basketball, and a lot of what we do are things he learned from Coach Smith," Ford said. "It's kind of eerie sometimes. If I have my back turned at practice and he is teaching someone something, I hear him saying a lot of the same things that Coach Smith would say. A lot of the fundamental things that we do come from Coach Smith."
Smith has remained out of the public eye for the most part since his retirement in 1997. However, recent reports of health problems have many fans and former players concerned about the former head Tar Heel. While Smith's health may not be what it once was, Ford's devotion to his college coach remains as strong as ever.
"You're talking about the greatest coach to ever coach basketball," Ford said. "The things he did over the period of time that he did them...the relationships he has with all of (the former players)...I'm blessed to have had him in my life. I love him dearly, and I will always be there for him, because he has always been there for all of us."