Hall of Fame inductee, the first coach to win 350 games at two different schools, two national championships; any Tar Heel fan would know exactly who is accountable for these prestigious accolades: Roy Williams. Yet when will it be time to stop? Despite coming off two straight losses and a tough game at Boston College Feb. 9, something far worse occurred. During a media timeout, Williams was irate with an official over a call and quickly returned to his team’s huddle, finding himself collapsing to the ground with players fortunately there to catch him. All signs point to Williams’s long struggle with vertigo and his inability to step away from basketball to overcome health issues.
Williams has been held on a pedestal in the eyes most of the Chapel Hill alumni as a “higher power,” but in reality he is simply an aging human being. Aside from the sporadic vertigo spells, Williams is feeling some of the aches and pains that comes with what aging bets against us. One thing Williams is most known for, other than his basketball accolades, is his love for golf, but that too is suffering. "I played some of the worst golf in the best places you could be," stated Williams. "I played Oakland Hills. I played Pine Valley. I played Augusta. I played Whisper Rock out in Arizona. I played Congressional. I played Burning Tree. I played Peachtree down in Atlanta. Some of the best places you could possibly be. And it just was awful. It was just awful."
Although his brilliant basketball mind is still intact, Williams has indeed noticed some of the minor details that pose a problem against himself. From limping around on the sideline during the Duke vs. UNC game Feb. 17, to having to sit during most practices, he has become extremely conscious of his diminishing health. "I've never sat down [during practice] one time," Williams exclaimed. "Not once. Never. Not during a water break. Never. But this year, second half of practices, I sit down some."
Fortunately to most Carolina fans, retirement has not been on the radar for Williams. "I think because of my knees, and I'm walking slower, people are starting to wonder how close [I am to retirement]," Williams said. "But I've really never considered [retiring]."
He’s not just any sixty-five year old man but a man with a tumor removed from his left kidney, who had two knee surgeries, and fought an uphill battle with vertigo, yet he is still undeniably one of the best in the business. Despite stress and pain, Williams is going to do whatever it takes to win his eleventh conference title, sixth conference tournament title, third national championship title, and third AP coach of the year award. “I still love walking out on that court for practice," stated Williams. "I love getting on that bus with my guys and listening to the junk they're talking,” and that alone is the reason Roy Williams is going to keep working hard and coaching the game that he loves for the kids that he loves.
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