The great Roy Williams finally retired as a Hall of Famer with more than 900 wins, three national championships and a legacy built on 33 seasons of success at two of college basketball’s most storied programs.
All of those accomplishments are very impressive, but a growing legion of Black basketball fans and media maintained that if Williams wants to leave a legacy at UNC that extends far beyond the basketball court — and is directly in tune with the racial reckoning we’ve had in this country which has aimed to reverse the systematic hoarding of power positions and leadership positions by white men — then he should name a Black coach as his successor.
Stephen A. Smith agreed and touted NC State coach LeVelle Moten.
— First Take (@FirstTake) April 1, 2021
It was a put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is challenge to the great basketball paradise that is North Carolina, to finally let a person lead the basketball team, who looks like the players who have immortalized the school and filled the coffers of white coaches, administrators, and corporate America with billions for nearly a half-century.
Roy Williams and Moton are friends and when Williams announced his retirement, speculation flew wild, like a church hat in the wind, concerning Williams’ replacement.
Stephen A’s choice was Moton. But Moton doesn’t have the name cache and his affiliation with an HBCU was too big a leap for the vaunted UNC, who previously only hired head-coaching replacements from within the program, from Bill Guthridge to Matt Dougherty to Roy Williams.
North Carolina is planning to hire assistant Hubert Davis as its head coach, per @clbrownhoops
Davis will be the first Black coach in the program’s history pic.twitter.com/bhlB2mspmk
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 5, 2021
When the smoke cleared, Stephen A. got half of his wish. The first African-American coach in program history was hired. It just wasn’t Moton. Former All-American Hubert Davis got the job, continuing the tradition of North Carolina coaching hires being former alumni.
It makes sense.
At the very least, Smith’s vote of confidence has made Moton’s name hot property. After such an endorsement you’d have to believe Moton, who has done more with less at NCCU, is on the way out of Durham.
And when he gets that pristine job and he finishes thanking his family and the good Lord above, Moton can thank Stephen A., who didn’t have to throw Moton’s name into the mix for one of the Top 3 most prestigious coaching jobs in the country.
For all the criticism he takes from all sides for being the mouthpiece of an entire sports culture, we have to commend Stephen A. Smith for being resolute and attentive when it comes to these kinds of racial issues.
History was made in Chapel Hill and the proud Tar Heel Family can officially say that their university isn’t afraid to allow a Black man to become the face of the program. Former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms must be turning over in his grave.
As a former Carolina player and current assistant, Davis was expected to be one of the top candidates for the job once Williams, 70, stepped down.
UNC made three Sweet 16s and a Final Four during his playing career, and his connection to both Smith and Williams makes a certified member of the “Carolina family.”
Davis has been heavily involved in recruiting, bench coaching and scouting during his time on the UNC staff after working for seven years in an analyst role with ESPN before entering the coaching ranks. As a 6-foot-5 guard, he was known for 3-point shooting during his playing career and parlayed that skill into an NBA career with the Knicks, Raptors, Mavericks, Wizards, Mavericks and Nets that lasted from 1992 until 2004.
I remember Hubert Davis in college and in his stint with the Knicks. How Pat Riley let him rot on the bench while John Starks shot the Knicks title hopes into oblivion in 1994. I know Hubert would have hit a couple of key jumpers. All the Knicks needed was a bucket or two and Patrick Ewing would be a champion today. Davis was as good a jump shooter as you’ll ever see. I always thought the Knicks would have beaten Houston in Game 7 if Riley had as much confidence in Davis as the State of North Carolina does right now.
Davis will have the task of uplifting a slumping UNC program. A Black face leading Black players for a PWI. The time is obviously right. If anyone thought Stephen A.was crazy for suggesting an African-American would end up stalking the same sidelines as the great Dean Smith did 40-50 years ago, apologies accepted.
Let’s see what Hubert Davis can do. And how long they let him rock out.