From Dan Wiederer at the Fayetteville Observer, confirmation of what has been discussed for months: Dean Smith's health is declining.
But the moment so many inside the North Carolina program cherished also carried a note of awkwardness because of what they all understood about Smith's health: People close to the coach say his famous memory is slipping. On some days he doesn't recognize people he has known for years.
"That's really the painful thing to absorb when you're around him," said Woody Durham, the radio voice of the Tar Heels since 1971. "Because his mind for so many years, not only in basketball but in remembering names and faces from everyday life, was like a steel trap. Now to see him losing that capability is truly sad."
Those near the UNC program say Smith has good days and bad days. On the good days, he is his cheerful, unassuming self, friendly and engaging and surprising people with his memory of little details about their lives.
But on the bad days, they say, Smith has great difficulty even remembering people he has worked with and around for years.
This type of mental decline is like watching a person die without the finality and closure. Anyone who has had a loved one suffer from some form of dementia or Alzheimer's knows this is incredibly tragic. For those close to Dean Smith, it is unbearable. Even the average UNC fan, most with some special personal memory of Dean Smith, are saddened to see a man of such brilliance both on and off the court having his mind affected in this way.
Obviously our thoughts are prayers are with his immediate family as well as those close to him for whom this is very difficult.