One of the reasons behind Michael Jordan‘s success and the player he became later in the NBA was because of the influence of the late great HOF coach Dean Smith. When Jordan was coming out of high school, he was talented but extremely raw and coming to the University of North Carolina, and he was put in a position to succeed. Under the mentorship of Dean Smith and his coaching staff, Jordan expanded his game while being properly educated on how to be a great player.
In one of his earlier interviews, Michael Jordan talked about his transition from high-school to NCAA. During his college days, because of the way defenses were played, Jordan used his quickness and speed to blow by any defender and put pressure on the opposing teams. He made a name for himself as one of the best slashers in the country, and that reputation followed him straight to the NBA when there was a notion he is not a great jump shooter. Jordan said he was never double-teamed in college and played within a system that worked.
I always felt I could shoot. When I came out of college, everyone said, ‘He can’t shoot the jumper.’ I never had to. I could penetrate zones in college. And teams played me one on one at North Carolina. They never double-teamed me. I always had a quick enough first step to get to the hole. I never looked to be aggressive offensively in college because I was playing in a system, and I was learning the game.Michael Jordan
Jordan will forever appreciate everything coach Smith did for him to transfer the knowledge and teach him to play the game the right way. When Jordan was in college, an interesting rumor going around Dean Smith is the only man in the world that can keep Jordan from scoring more than 20 points per game because he insisted he plays within the system in which team success comes first.
That was the education I got from Dean Smith. Coming out of high school, I had all the ability in the world, but I didn’t know the game. Dean taught me the game, when to apply speed, how to use your quickness, when to use that first step, or how to apply certain skills in certain situations. I gained all that knowledge so that when I got to the pros, it was just a matter of applying the information. A lot of people say Dean Smith held me to under 20 points a game. Dean Smith gave me the knowledge to score 37 points a game, and that’s something people don’t understand.Michael Jordan
When Jordan came to the NBA, everyone knew he was special, but there were a lof uncertainties on whether he can be as equally successful as he was in college. He immediately showed what type of player he was, showcasing incredible versatility on both ends of the floor, and top of great maturity for a player that was only 21 years old. Needless, to say he, in the next couple of years, become the best player in the NBA and later on one of the greatest in history. All of that wouldn’t be possible if he didn’t have a mentor like Dean Smith, who took Jordan under his wing and showed him the ropes, and taught him how to play the game in the right way. To this day, Jordan respects everything Dean Smith did for him and emphasizes the importance of having him as a basketball influence early on in his life.