Skip to content

Be sure to give Dean Smith some credit for Jordan’s success

Feb 16, 2013, 10:31 AM EDT

Michael Jordan North Carolina Getty Images

When you see the retrospective highlight clips of Michael Jordan this weekend, they almost all start with him in Carolina blue, knocking down the jumper that wins the Tar Heels a national championship.

But did that and the three seasons Jordan played at North Carolina make his six NBA titles and the rest of his success possible?

None other than Tex Winter, architect of the triangle offense Jordan and Phil Jackson won with in Chicago, thinks the answer is yes.

This according to Roland Lazenby, the author of “Blood On The Horns, The Long Strange Ride of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls” (which is being re-released right now by Diversion Books as an ebook edition in honor of Jordan’s birthday) and also the author of a new Jordan biography due out in the spring of 2014 (by Little, Brown). Lazenby has a great relationship with Winter, and he talked about those years

“Tex Winter always credited Dean Smith because Jordan first played in a tightly run system at North Carolina,” Lazenby told ProBasketballTalk. “If he hadn’t done that, Jordan would never have accepted the triangle offense as he did, Winter said.”

Jordan thrived in that offense, which is predicated on spacing and on high basketball IQ players moving the ball and taking what the defense gave them. The offense not only helped Jordan score but also helped get his teammates good looks allowing them to help.

Of course, it all comes back to MJ.

“Still, so much of the credit is Jordan’s because he had the character and intelligence and will to bend his game to that offense,” Lazenby said. “Then there’s Scottie Pippen. His maturing into the kind of player to could team with Jordan to make this magical core to a competitive dynamo, well, that contribution was immeasurable, as Jordan and everyone else involved has acknowledged.”

Jordan was the icon and is the consensus greatest player ever to play the game. You can’t ever take that away from him. But he didn’t do it all alone.

And Dean Smith deserves some of the credit.

Latest Posts
  1. PBT Extra matchup to watch: Can Toronto keep Paul Pierce quiet on the court?

    Apr 21, 2015, 12:14 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptrkyze4nmfkytlhmjnjodc4mjk4mgq0nzixowuwndg2 AP

    Pierce’s comments made him unpopular north of the border, but his play should bother the Raptors more.

  2. PBT Extra matchup to watch: Dallas has to find a way to deal with Dwight Howard

    Apr 20, 2015, 9:59 PM EDT

    Tyson Chandler, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard Tyson Chandler, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard

    He was simply the most dominant player in Game 1 of the Mavericks vs. Rockets series.

  3. Man arrested after fight over who is better, Michael Jordan or LeBron James

    Apr 20, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Charlotte Bobcats - Game Four Getty Images

    I could try to use logic and suggest that discussing the complete legacy of Jordan with the incomplete legacy of James is a fool’s errand. But this is the Internet, logic is not always welcome.

  4. PBT Extra matchup to watch: Marcus Smart needs to take on Kyrie Irving challenge

    Apr 20, 2015, 7:50 PM EDT

    Kyrie Irving Kyrie Irving

    What you want to see as a Boston fan is Smart embrace the challenge.

  5. PBT Extra matchup to watch: Pelican guards need to stay with Curry, Thompson

    Apr 20, 2015, 5:32 PM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors - Game One New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors - Game One

    Also, Tyreke Evans is a game-time decision after his injury in the playoff opener.

  6. Clippers will rebrand this summer, new potential logos leaked

    Apr 20, 2015, 4:06 PM EDT

    Screen-shot-2015-04-17-at-10.35.11-PM

    The Clippers need a rebranding, but the leaked images are not winning over new fans.

  7. Report: One Trail Blazers player gives LaMarcus Aldridge just 50-50 chance of re-signing

    Apr 20, 2015, 11:57 AM EDT

    Portland Trail Blazers v Memphis Grizzlies - Game One Getty Images

    And he’s not the only Portland player worried about Aldridge leaving

Featured video

Can Michael Carter-Williams slow Derrick Rose?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (5468)
  2. C. Parsons (5143)
  3. K. Durant (4993)
  4. P. George (4944)
  5. M. Conley (4734)
  1. T. Splitter (4593)
  2. L. James (4425)
  3. D. Lee (4303)
  4. K. Bryant (4266)
  5. S. Curry (4209)