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vii Foreword Foreword by Dean Smith When Abraham Aamidor called from Indiana to interview me for his new biography of Chuck Taylor, I was amazed that someone had not written one years before, because Taylor was such an important gure in America’s basketball history. Obviously, I’m extremely pleased that Abe is lling this void. It’s a service to all who love basketball and its roots. One of my earliest memories of Chuck Taylor is about the shoe, not the man. Prior to the start of practice for our 1951–52 University of Kansas basketball team, coached by Dr. Forrest C. (Phog) Allen, team members were given new red “Keds” basketball shoes, which surprised us all. We had always worn the“Chucks,”but Dr.Allen insisted that we switch to “Keds.” After all, the crimson color in that shoe was, and still is, one of the colors for the University of Kansas athletic teams. I didn’t understand why Dr. Allen changed our shoes, because most of us thought the “Chucks” were the best basketball shoe of that day, as well as by far the most popular. Only recently did Abe explain to me why Dr. Allen outtted our team for “Keds” and dumped the “Chucks.” Taylor and Dr. Allen had put on a basketball clinic together, and Chuck, with his outstanding and unusual passing skills, had 00ChuckFM.indd 11/18/05, 2:59 PM 7 viii Foreword apparently upset Dr. Allen with his showmanship. It was supposed to have been a clinic on offense and defense, but Chuck apparently stole the show with his artful passing. Dr. Allen was a great coach, motivator, and speaker, but he didn’t like to be upstaged. Our Kansas team went on to win the NCAA championship in 1951–52 but take it from me it wasn’t because of the shoes. (Since Indiana University Press is publishing this book, I should point out that in 1953, my senior year, our Kansas team lost to Indiana in the nal game 68-67, and we were wearing the same red shoes!) In 1956–57, I became assistant basketball coach at the new Air Force Academy, then in its second year. The head coach was Bob Spear, one of the greatest teachers ever to coach college basketball. Bob wanted our players to wear Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. However, it wasn’t that simple in the Air Force.We couldn’t just order what we wanted and be done with it. We had to give specications on the product in question , and then the government would decide which supplier best met the specications. In other words, a clear denition of “Red Tape.” Bob Davies, the former great pro player, was the salesman for Converse and told us how to place the order in such a way that only Converse could meet the specications. We even went so far as to request Chuck Taylor’s autograph on the shoes. Unfortunately, they arrived as a basketball shoe named “Lacrosse,” so our basketball cadets had to wait until their senior season to wear the “Chucks.” It wasn’t until 1959 that I came to know Chuck Taylor well, when I became Frank McGuire’s assistant coach at North Carolina. Chuck was a regular visitor to Chapel Hill, and, of course, our team wore his Converse shoes. Chuck traveled often in the South, and when possible, he stayed with his special friends, Jimmy and Tassie Dempsey of Wilson, N.C. He met the Dempseys when Jimmy was a major in the Air Force in World War II and they remained close friends. Even when 00ChuckFM.indd 11/18/05, 2:59 PM 8 ix Foreword Chuck married at a late age, his wife Lucy traveled with him and stayed with the Dempseys. My rst year as North Carolina’s head coach was the 1961–62 season. Chuck and the Dempseys came by and invited me to dinner. Over the meal, Chuck told me he had a new, weighted shoe that was designed for early-season training to strengthen the legs. He claimed that training in the heavy shoes would make the players quicker and faster once they moved back to the “Chuck All Stars.” Chuck made a pretty big deal out of it, telling me that he was going to have only two teams try out these new shoes in the rst week of practice. North Carolina was one of the teams...


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