Dean Smith is still giving to his North Carolina players — even after his death.
Tim Breedlove, the Charlotte-based trustee of the trust that bears the late coach's name, said Thursday that letters were sent earlier this month to each of the players who lettered for Smith's Tar Heel teams — about 180 in all.
The letter says Smith directed that following his death, each letterman was to be sent a $200 check with the message "enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith."
— Jim Dempsey (@ChestPassDemps) March 26, 2015
The Hall of Fame coach died Feb. 7 at age 83, and a memorial service two weeks later at the campus arena that bears his name drew about 10,000 people with lines snaking around the building more than an hour before fans could enter. Smith spent 36 seasons with the Tar Heels and led them to national championships in 1982 and 1993 before retiring in 1997 as the winningest men's coach in Division I history with 897 career victories.
Upon Smith's death, tributes flowed in from across college basketball: pregame moments of silence were held at venues where the Tar Heels weren't even playing. Miami coach Jim Larranaga wore a Carolina blue-shaded tie to honor him, and North Carolina ran Smith's famed "Four Corners" offense — and eventually scoring out of it — to open a game against Georgia Tech.
His most notable player was none other than iconic NBA great Michael Jordan, whose game began on Smith’s court well before his rise to fame.
“Other than my parents, no one had a bigger influence on my life than Coach Smith,” Jordan said in a statement upon news of his passing. “He was more than a coach – he was my mentor, my teacher, my second father. 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.”
So let’s imagine Jordan will take his $200 and head to his own Chicago steakhouse to celebrate Smith’s memory, what could he get?
For under $200 after tax and tip, a dinner for two at MJ’s on the Magnificent Mile could look like:
- Starter: Oysters on the half shell ($19)
- Entrees: Filet mignon with bay leaf butter ($46); Grass fed ribeye with wild mushroom rub ($44) and blue cheese crust ($5)
- Sides: Lobster, goat cheese and roasted garlic mashed potato trio ($15); Grilled corn with smoked chile-lime butter ($11)
- Dessert: 23 layer chocolate cake ($14)
- Starter: Shrimp cocktail with shaved celery and vodka-spiked cocktail sauce ($19)
- Entrees: Slagel farm’s seedling cider glazed pork chop ($36); MJ’s Delmonico USDA prime, dry-aged 45 days with ginger balsamic jus ($54)
- Sides: Fingerling potatoes with duck fat, carmelized onions and thyme ($10)
- Dessert: Nutella crème brulee with banana bread, bananas and hazelnuts ($10)
- Starters: Steak tartar with mustard crème fraiche and kennebec chips ($15)
- Entrees: Dry aged porterhouse for two ($99)
- Sides: Little gem wedge salad with Wisconsin blue cheese, bacon, pickled shallots ($12)
- Dessert: Salted chocolate caramel tart with grand marnier anglaise ($11)
And you would still have enough left over to toast a drink in Coach Smith’s honor.