05-09-2009, 08:57 AM
05-09-2009, 11:28 AM
DETROIT -- Chuck Daly, who coached the original Dream Team to the Olympic gold medal in 1992 after winning back-to-back NBA championships with the Detroit Pistons, has died. He was 78.
He died Saturday morning in Jupiter, Fla., with his family by his side, the team said. The Pistons announced in March that the Hall of Fame coach had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was undergoing treatment.
He was renowned for his ability to create harmony out of diverse personalities at all levels of the game, whether they were Ivy Leaguers at Pennsylvania, Dream Teamers Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, or Pistons as dissimilar as Dennis Rodman and Joe Dumars.
Remembering Chuck Daly
Chuck Daly left his mark on the Detroit Pistons and the NBA, slowing the tempo and emphasizing defense on the way to a pair of titles, writes basketball historian Ken Shouler. Story
"It's a players' league. They allow you to coach them or they don't," Daly once said. "Once they stop allowing you to coach, you're on your way out."
Daly was voted one of the 10 greatest coaches of the NBA's first half-century in 1996, two years after being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He was the first coach to win both an NBA title and Olympic gold.
"I think Chuck understood people as well as basketball," Dumars told The Associated Press in 1995. "It's a people business."
Doug Collins, a former Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls coach, learned the intricacies of the game from Daly.
"He was a man of incredible class and dignity. He was a mentor and a friend," Collins said. "He taught me so much and was always so supportive of me and my family. I loved him and will miss him."
Daly had a golden touch at the Barcelona Games with NBA superstars Magic Johnson, Jordan, Larry Bird and Barkley, using a different lineup in every game.
"I played against Chuck's teams throughout the NBA for a lot of years. He always had his team prepared, he's a fine coach," Bird said shortly after Daly's diagnosis became public.
"Chuck did a good job of keeping us together," Bird said. "It wasn't about who scored the most points, it was about one thing: winning the gold medal."
Daly humbled the NBA superstars by coaching a group of college players to victory in a controlled scrimmage weeks before the Olympics.
"I was the happiest man in the gym," Daly said afterward.
Daly also made the right moves for the Pistons, who were notorious for their physical play with Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn leading the fight, Rodman making headlines and Hall of Fame guards Isiah Thomas and Dumars lifting the team to titles in 1989 and 1990.
[+] EnlargeAndrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Chuck Daly led the "Bad Boys" Pistons to a pair of NBA titles.
Former Piston John Salley gave Daly the nickname "Daddy Rich" for his impeccably tailored suits.
Daly had a career regular-season record of 638-437 in 13 NBA seasons. In 12 playoff appearances, his teams went 75-51. He left Detroit as the Pistons' coaching leader in regular-season and playoff victories.
"The Daly family and the entire Detroit Pistons and Palace Sports and Entertainment family is mourning the loss of Chuck Daly," family and team spokesman Matt Dobek said. "Chuck left a lasting impression with everyone he met both personally and professionally and his spirit will live with all of us forever."
Despite his success, Daly wasn't part of a Coach of the Year presentation until he handed the trophy to then-Detroit coach Rick Carlisle in 2002.
"This is as close as I've ever been to that thing," Daly said, looking at the Red Auerbach Trophy.
Born July 20, 1930, in St. Marys, Pa., Charles Jerome Daly played college ball at St. Bonaventure and Bloomsburg. After two years in the military, he coached for eight seasons at Punxsutawney (Pa.) High School and then spent six years as an assistant at Duke.
Succeeding Bob Cousy as coach at Boston College, Daly coached the Eagles to a 26-24 record during two seasons, then spent seven seasons at Penn, leading the Quakers to the Ivy League championship from 1972 to 1975.
Daly joined the NBA coaching ranks in 1978 as an assistant under Billy Cunningham in Philadelphia. His first head coaching job was with Cleveland, but he was fired after the Cavaliers went 9-32 during the first half of the 1981-82 season.
In 1983, Daly took over a Detroit team that had never had two straight winning seasons and led the Pistons to nine straight. He persuaded the likes of Rodman, Thomas, Dumars, Mahorn and Laimbeer to play as a unit and they responded with back-to-back championships in 1989 and 1990.
Far from being intimidated by the Pistons' "Bad Boys" image, Daly saw the upside of it.
"I've also had players who did not care," he said a decade later. "I'd rather have a challenging team."
After leaving Detroit, Daly took over the New Jersey Nets for two seasons and led them to the playoffs both times.
He left broadcasting to return to the bench 1997 with the Orlando Magic and won 74 games in two seasons, then retired at the age of 68 because he said he was weary of the travel.
Daly joined the Vancouver Grizzlies as a senior adviser in 2000.
In retirement, he split time between residences in Jupiter, Fla., and suburban Detroit.
The Pistons retired No. 2 to honor their former coach's two NBA titles in January 1997.
"Without you, there wouldn't be us," Mahorn said to Daly during the ceremony.
Daly is survived by his wife, Terry, as well as daughter Cydney and grandchildren Sebrina and Connor.
05-10-2009, 09:42 AM
In a league and profession often suffocated by ego, Chuck Daly thrived by taking an unusual approach.
Chuck Daly managed the egos of the super-talented Dream Team, winning Olympic gold in 1992. (Andrew D. Bernstein / Getty Images)
Daly, the NBA coaching legend who died from complications associated with pancreatic cancer Saturday at the age of 78, understood he was working in a players' league. But what made him special was a willingness and ability to reconcile this dynamic with his own coaching interests.
So, unlike many coaches who fail to translate this knowledge, Daly realized that no level of tactical genius is more important than a player's ability to function. Even more importantly, Daly figured out that this ability to function can be sabotaged by an exaggeration of coaching input.
He figured out that coaches don't make plays, they only draw them up. They don't defend, rebound or make timely passes. But great coaches do excel at putting players in situations where these manifestations of the game plan are more easily achieved.
This talent for creating reasonable structure while allowing certain freedoms is why Daly was a rousing success at the professional level; in 1996, he was voted one of the top 10 coaches of the NBA's first half century.
The distinction was bestowed upon Daly for coaching the Detroit Pistons to back-to-back NBA championships in 1989 and 1990, then presiding over the original, gold-medal-winning Olympic "Dream Team" in 1992.
Interestingly, while serving as a coaching-success bridge between Showtime Los Angeles Lakers coach Pat Riley and Zen Master Phil Jackson of the Chicago Bulls, Daly managed to avoid being named NBA Coach of the Year.
Such oversight often occurs when lesser talent is unexpectedly cajoled into reaching a level beyond mediocrity by another coach. Daly, who was within a whisker of steering the Pistons to a three-peat, was able to create a championship system built around the offensive gifts of Hall-of-Fame guard Isiah Thomas.
Daly's system was predicated on team defense, a concept that held little NBA relevance until the rise of Chuck's "Bad Boys" in Detroit. Through much of the 1980s, championships were won and lost through offensive artistry demonstrated by the Lakers, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.
Oh, there was defense, but most of it was the responsibility of select stoppers such as Michael Cooper, Bobby Jones and Dennis Johnson. Before the Bad Boys, the top contenders would kill you with offense and use one of the aforementioned defensive aces to slow down your best player.
Daly, nimbly massaging his roster into a championship team, can be credited with helping turn NBA defense into a group activity. With Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn bulldozing anyone who penetrated the lane, the Bad Boys moved like five characters connected by one rope. When the ball moved, they moved. When a superstar opponent was moving with enough skill to compromise the victory effort, the Bad Boys moved with a little more aggression than finesse.
It's a style that was adopted by Riley when he moved to New York and discovered that Showtime was not a bi-coastal enterprise.
Daly's versatility as a coach really came through when his skill at molding disparate egos into a cohesive team was summoned to lead the United States back to international basketball glory. With USA Basketball assembling the greatest cast of superstar athletes in team-sport history, the coaching act was presumed to require little more than deciding which five to play.
With a roll call that included the names Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, David Robinson and Karl Malone, a certain psychology was needed to turn these names into a blitzkrieg-unleashing unit.
Daly's success at inspiring players at all levels to "buy in" is what separated him from most of his coaching peers. But the fierce nature of their competitive fire came and went without his respect from the basketball world being sacrificed.
When the Bad Boys finally were conquered by Jordan and the Bulls, their notorious early departure from the court inspired relatively little backlash toward Daly. In good times and bad, his teams maintained a coaching imprint without losing individual identity.
With that in mind, the 2009 version of the NBA playoffs have seemed like a tribute to Daly and his Bad Boys.
Boston's Rajon Rondo became a menace to the health of the Bulls. Good guy Dwight Howard and his right elbow were seen channeling Laimbeer. Rafer Alston created a new spin move by using the head band of Eddie House. And the widely respected Derek Fisher went Vince McMahon by blowing up an attempted screen by Luis Scola.
But a greater and more appropriate tribute is being carried out by the coaches' association, whose members wear a "CD" lapel pin to honor Chuck Daly. The association also created the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award.
The achievement of Daly's lifetime can be defined as letting the players play your way.
Within context, as Daly demanded, there's a skill behind this method that most coaches never quite figure out
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