Dean Smith and the city of Bradenton will always have a connection.
It reminds us that memories are often mixed with good tidings and disappointment.
The legendary University of North Carolina basketball coach who died Sunday was in Bradenton in the fall of 1989 to recruit Southeast superstar Clifford Rozier.
On one particular day when Smith met with Rozier and his parents at the home of then-Southeast head basketball coach Bob Carroll, Bradenton was the epicenter of the college basketball world.
Other high-profile college basketball coaches made it in to Bradenton that season, but none had the stature of Dean Smith. There was Steve Fisher (Michigan), Denny Crum (Louisville) and Pat Kennedy (Florida State).
"North Carolina was the dream school for Clifford," said Elliot Washington, his former teammate at Southeast and current head basketball coach at State College of Florida.
Rozier signed with North Carolina and went to the Final Four his freshman year, but then left for Louisville, saying he wanted more playing time.
"They were very impressed with his talent. But they (UNC freshmen) weren't going to walk in there and play right away; that's just not how the program was run. All those guys were patient, and it paid off for them," Carroll said.
Those guys make up quite a list: Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Phil Ford and Sam Perkins to name a few.
Rozier said he did not want to comment on Smith's death when reached Wednesday.
The 6-foot-11 center earned first-team All-American honors at Louisville under Crum and was a first-round NBA pick. But his NBA career was short, then emotional and mental health problems, perhaps triggered by drug use, reportedly took hold of him.
Rozier's exit from UNC created a quandary for Smith, who rarely had a player leave his program in a coaching career that saw him win two NCAA titles and 13 ACC championships and qualify for 13 Final Fours.
Michael Jordan called him his second father. Dean Smith was loved, but he was tough, particularly on freshmen. Ex-players say he yelled at them the most and didn't like to play freshmen much.
The limited playing time bothered Rozier, who was arguably the most high-profile player to transfer out of UNC under Smith. It seemed to bother the coach.
Smith took some of the blame, telling the New York Times in 1991 that Rozier may have been praised too much too soon and comparisons to James Worthy put too much pressure on him.
Smith rarely if ever said a bad word about a player, but perhaps caught up in all the emotion told the media one day: "Cliff's going to find out they want him to play defense in Louisville, too."
As a freshman at UNC, Rozier averaged 9.3 minutes and 4.9 points. In his final season at Louisville, he averaged 18.1 points and 11.1 rebounds.
Carroll said he believes things likely would've gone differently for Rozier if he had stayed at North Carolina.
It's a question that will live forever, though it has been reported Rozier is content with his life now away from the limelight.
"You've got to have patience and buy into the program, but it's going to be better for you because of the discipline," Carroll said. "Cliff and I did not talk about his decision to leave North Carolina. I don't know the reason. At that point, it was not any of my business."
The only thing certain is that when Dean Smith came here for those 24 hours, Bradenton owned the basketball world's spotlight.
For that, we can thank Clifford Rozier.
Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.