When North Carolina announced Thursday that legendary coach Roy Williams is retiring, the tributes began pouring in from all over the basketball world. The 70-year-old Williams won three national titles at UNC, his alma mater, and also reached four Final Fours during a 15-year run at Kansas.
Prior to his run with the Jayhawks, he was an assistant under Dean Smith at North Carolina for a decade. During that time, he recruited and helped coach a player by the name of Michael Jordan. Arguably the greatest player of all-time, Jordan has maintained his relationship with Williams over the years.
Roy Williams retires at UNC, Chris Beard hired at Texas. Emergency episode of Eye on College Basketball is here.
"To choose your own path, to walk away from the game when he wants," Jordan said in an exclusive interview with the Charlotte Observer. "It's great he now gets to spend more time with his children and grandchildren.
"I'm sad that he's leaving because he has meant so much to basketball," Jordan added. "He and my father formed an unbelievable bond that meant so much to me."
Though Jordan is the most high-profile of Williams' former players, he is just one of hundreds who were impacted by his career. Here is a look at some of other tributes pouring in as Williams departs from college basketball, starting with one from UNC's bitter rival.
Salute to UNC Head Coach Roy Williams on a legendary 48-year career. All respect. Thank you for all you have done for the game, our league and the greatest rivalry in sports. 🤝— Duke Men’s Basketball (@DukeMBB) April 1, 2021
Love you coach https://t.co/KtpAr7xRcA— Armando Bacot Jr. (@iget_buckets35) April 1, 2021
thank you!💙 pic.twitter.com/NpjyMEDoCt— Caleb Love (@caleb2love) April 1, 2021
Thank you for everything Coach!❤️ pic.twitter.com/BlGRZ6bBbD— RJ Davis (@ariidavis_) April 1, 2021
There are really good men and then there are Great Men that impact the rest of your life in a way that changes your life forever. That is what Roy Williams did for me. Congrats on your Retirement Coach! Proud to call you My Coach!— Rex Walters (@CoachRexWalters) April 1, 2021
Thank you💙 i appreciate & grateful for you 🤍 now you can play golf all day 😂 pic.twitter.com/p4fqGHHDkA— Christian Keeling (@ckeeling_11) April 1, 2021
Thank You For Everything Big Fella! 🐐— Brandon Robinson (@BRob_4) April 1, 2021
Not Only A Great Coach But A GREAT Leader, Mentor, and Person! 🖤 pic.twitter.com/Cr3c76cXF3
Can’t thank this man enough for what he did for me! Allowed me to live out my dream!! A legend https://t.co/jLD7WY6no8— Kenny Williams III (@KWill_24) April 1, 2021
I don’t have the words to describe in one message the impact Coach RW had on my life! Congrats on a legendary career coach, you will be missed 🐐— Marcus Paige (@marcuspaige5) April 1, 2021
One hell of a career and even better person! Thank you for everything coach truly a honor playing for you!❤️ https://t.co/IEMritlFwG— Theo pinson (@tpinsonn) April 1, 2021
Can’t thank you enough for all you did for me during my 4 years at UNC and after. Everyone knows how great of a coach you are; but for me, it’s the amazing man that you are, your character and values are something that has helped me to be the man I am https://t.co/svLe8EmPdE— Deon Thompson (@DeThompson9) April 1, 2021
Coach Williams is a college basketball icon. Who else has lead two blue blood programs to perineal success. I am grateful for the amazing impact he has had on my life, @KUHoops and the game of basketball. pic.twitter.com/iq9Avr112H— Wayne Simien Jr. (@waynesimien) April 1, 2021