My relationship with my father had its ups and downs over the years. I’ve never talked much about it except with close friends, and the reason I’m bringing it up now is the passing of Dean Smith.
My father and I greatly admired Smith and were passionate fans of his Carolina basketball teams. And there were times when the only reason we’d consent to be in the same room was because Carolina was playing on TV and there was only one TV in the house.
So we’d sit in silence and watch. And sooner or later Smith or the Heels would do something that would evoke a comment, and that would break – or at least crack – the ice, and maybe a few words of conversation would follow.
Over the years, I realized that anyone who could thaw a feud like that and bring two squabbling parties into the same room was pretty unusual. And I realized that, whatever our other differences, the fact that my father and I both admired and respected Smith meant that we shared some important character traits.
I always intended to write a note to Smith to tell him how he’d been a good influence on my relationship with my father because Smith seemed like the kind of guy who would appreciate that. But, of course, I never got around to it. And now, of course, I really regret not sending that note.