Coaches this year are dressing casually, a concession to the fact that there are no fans in the stands during the pandemic. As part of that, UNC coach Roy Williams has been wearing a different pair of Air Jordans each game.
“Last summer the ACC head coaches had a (weekly) call,” Williams recalled. “We talked all summer, and one thing we talked about was what we were going to wear during our games. The NBA in their bubble just wore polo-type shirts, and everybody wanted to do that. I said, ‘Guys, I’ve got to think this through. Coach (Dean) Smith always said, ‘If you want to be respected like a businessman or a professional, you should dress like one.’ Before he passed away, I never asked him if I could change. Every game that’s counted on the record—not exhibitions but every game that counted except Maui or Nassau, I wore a coat and tie. Every game. Never failed. I didn’t wear a turtleneck. I wore a coat and tie every game. I told the coaches I’d think about it, and I’d get in with them. I did tried to figure out how to call Coach Smith and ask him what he thought, but I couldn’t figure that out either.”
Once Williams decided to go along with passing up the suit, he had to decide on his footwear.
“I went to (Director of Player Development/Assistant to the Atletic Director) Eric Hoots, who is a jack of all trades, master of most,” Williams said. “I said, ‘I think I’d like to wear a different Jordan Brand shoe every game.’ It’s easy for me, because I’m size nine and a half, which is the sample size. So over the years, I’ve been sent a lot of shoes. It takes us about three minutes before each game to decide which pair of shoes to wear.”
Obviously, the school’s connection to Michael Jordan and relationship with the iconic line of shoes appeals to recruits and is popular on social media. But Williams scoffed at the idea that he was wearing the Jordans for that reason.
“I didn’t do it for anything other than how loyal I wanted to be to Jordan Brand,” he said. “I didn’t know it was going to get any hits or whatever it is they call it, but its gotten an incredible amount of attention.”