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. The Al Jefferson Effect: Now that the Bobcats are playoff-bound, how they want their big man to help next

    Apr 17, 2014, 4:53 PM EDT

    Steve Clifford, Cody Zeller, Al Jefferson Steve Clifford, Cody Zeller, Al Jefferson

    What affect will Jefferson have on the development of Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller?

  2. Toronto puts together Drake narrated playoffs preview video

    Apr 17, 2014, 4:50 PM EDT

    Timberwolves Raptors Basketball AP

    Raptors fans are pumped for the playoffs.

  3. Carmelo Anthony: “I want to come back…I also want to win.”

    Apr 17, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    Carmelo Anthony AP

    It really comes down to this: Does he trust Phil Jackson and Knicks management to build a winner quickly?

  4. LeBron James, Heat top NBA jersey sales again

    Apr 17, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Miami Heat Getty Images

    You put your money where your heart is, and your heart clearly follows LeBron James and the Heat.

  5. The incredible thing about Larry Drew

    Apr 17, 2014, 2:11 PM EDT

    Larry Drew Larry Drew

    Bucks didn’t win back-to-back games all season

  6. Kobe tells Lakers’ fans to “flush” last season, has been cleared to run, shoot, prepare for next season

    Apr 17, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Kobe may be in France but he still had time to tweet Lakers fans and tell them things will be better next season.

  7. Duke’s Jabari Parker says he will enter NBA Draft

    Apr 17, 2014, 12:55 PM EDT

    Duke v Mercer Getty Images

    He is as high on some boards as No. 1, but likely goes No. 3. However no freshman near the top of this board will have a bigger immediate impact in the NBA — his offensive game is NBA ready.

  8. Report: Rick Adelman will not return as Timberwolves coach

    Apr 17, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT

    Rick Adelman Rick Adelman

    This both has been expected and is mutual, according to the buzz around the league.

  9. Report: Grant Hill not interested in becoming Pistons’ general manager

    Apr 17, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2014 Getty Images

    Hill previously reported to be a candidate for a job

  10. Wednesday NBA grades: Kevin Durant ends season exactly like you think he would

    Apr 17, 2014, 2:10 AM EDT

    Kevin Durant Kevin Durant

    On the season Kevin Durant averaged 32 points, seven rebounds and five assists a game. Not too shabby.

  11. Kevin Durant’s game-winning dunk clinches two seed for Thunder (VIDEO)

    Apr 16, 2014, 11:31 PM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Kevin Durant was simply unstoppable with the game on the line against the Pistons.

Featured video

Woodson, D'Antoni's coaching futures
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Wade (4304)
  2. D. Williams (4288)
  3. K. Love (4272)
  4. L. James (3956)
  5. S. Curry (3786)
  1. G. Dragic (3738)
  2. C. Anthony (3605)
  3. R. Rondo (3481)
  4. D. Howard (3346)
  5. R. Westbrook (3295)