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Concerning Shaka Smart

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When Style Weekly’s editorial team begins its annual review and analysis of the previous year in Richmond, we try to zero in on turning points. We consider the moments when there were significant changes — a shift in attitude or outlook, a news event that set the city on a new course, a poignant story that taught us something about ourselves.

By their very nature, most of these moments already sparked big headlines, which makes them old news. And nothing is less compelling than an old story.

Or is it? For a magazine like Style, the luxury often is in stepping back from the head-spinning rush and clutter of day-to-day breaking stories to pause and reflect. To discover the bigger picture. To look at what happened when all the pieces were put together. To consider those moments through the lens of what we know now.

It would be difficult to find anyone who missed the improbable story of the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University sending their men’s basketball teams to the Sweet 16. It created national headlines, led to parties in the streets and even sparked a remixed club song or two. The apex struck when VCU turned bigger teams away, earning a shot in the Final Four and underscoring the value of hard work and a coach who hadn’t exactly been welcomed with open arms, Shaka Smart.

It wasn’t a story easily ignored then. And it isn’t a story easily ignored today. And as we name Shaka Smart Style Weekly’s 27th Richmonder of the Year — a selection we have made since 1985 — we have a moment to consider what he really brought to town.

So in the midst of the head-spinning rush of VCU’s recent seven-game winning streak, we think it’s valuable to step back to consider the man who took the Rams to the Final Four. The coach who helped guide a team, and a city, to glory.

Please let us know what you think of this year’s choice through e-mail, on Facebook or on Twitter.

The Editors

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