Thompson, three teammates attend funeral

Updated: December 12, 2003, 6:04 PM ET
Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. -- David Thompson and three teammates from North Carolina State's 1974 NCAA title team attended Norm Sloan's funeral Friday, remembering a coach who "molded us from boys to men."

Sloan, 77, died Tuesday of pulmonary fibrosis at Duke Hospital in Durham. His funeral was held about a mile from where he rejuvenated the N.C. State basketball program in the early 1970s.

Thompson, Tommy Burleson, Monte Towe and Phil Spence, all members of Sloan's 1974 title team, attended the service.

Thompson, whose extraordinary jumping ability was the catalyst for the championship run, said Sloan was a mentor and friend to him and his teammates.

"Really, he molded us from boys to men," Thompson said. "He was somebody we could look up to in the way he led his life. He was a good, strong family man, and I really appreciated him for that."

Two of Sloan's granddaughters said the former coach was something more to them.

"Despite his success and his stature, he was always so careful not to be imposing," Tayler Nicholls told the audience of about 200, many of whom played for Sloan at N.C. State.

"You think Stormin' Norman was tough. You ought to meet his wife," said Blake Nicholls, another granddaughter. Joan Sloan always sang the national anthem at Wolfpack home games. "She was his inspiration. Together, they were unstoppable."

Pete Sloan, no relation to the coach, called his friend "a part-time angel."

"I've never known a more loving man of his wife, children, family, players, friends," he said.

Among those paying final respects at the Edenton Street Methodist Church were former North Carolina All-American Phil Ford, ex-Wolfpack All-American Chris Corchiani, retired coach Lefty Driesell and current members of the N.C. State basketball team led by coach Herb Sendek.

Towe, a guard on the championship team who now coaches at the University of New Orleans, said his former coach was a wonderful person to be around, someone who enjoyed being around people and having a good time.

Towe said Sloan taught him to "be a good person, treat people like you'd like to be treated."

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press