Phil Ford has been a part of the Carolina program for close to 50 years, first as one of the most successful Tar Heels of all time, leading Dean Smith’s teams at point guard, then as an assistant for Smith for many years.
Ford approves of the choice of new UNC coach Hubert Davis.
“Coach Smith always had a saying: It’s what’s best for the team on the court and what’s best for the individual off the court,” he said. “This was an on-court decision and Bubba (Cunningham, UNC AD) hit it out of the park.”
Ford has had plenty of time getting to know Davis, after playing with his uncle Walter Davis on those Tar Heels teams, as well as in the 1976 Olympics, coached to gold by Dean Smith.
“I’ve known Hubert since he was five years old,” he said. “Walter Davis was his uncle and Big Hubert (Davis’ dad) picked Walter and I up in Montreal after the gold medal game after the Olympics in 1976. Hubert rode in the back seat with us. He must have been five, six at the time and he had the gold medals around his neck from Montreal all the way back (to Virginia).”
Ford thinks Davis was a good choice to understand what Tar Heel players are going through.
“Young kids today, most of the kids that come to Carolina are looking for that next step to get to the NBA. Hubert, having played here, knows what it is to be a student athlete at the University of North Carolina. And with his pro experience, he knows what it takes to play in the NBA. He’s done it. He knows what it takes to overachieve.”
“He’s a compassionate guy,” Ford continued. “He’s not afraid to show emotion.”