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 at age 78 on May 9, 2009. 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.
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, former Pistons guard Joe Dumars told The Associated
Press in 1995.
It’s a people business.Daly did famously at the Barcelona
Games with NBA superstars such as 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
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, Dennis Rodman
making headlines and Hall of Fame guards Isiah Thomas and Dumars lifting the team to
titles in 1989 and 1990. 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’ 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. Mary’s, 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 over two seasons and then spent seven seasons at Pennsylvania,
leading the Quakers to the Ivy League championship in 1972-75. 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 over 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 and 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 over
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 was survived by his wife, Terry, who
died in 2017 at age 88, as well as by daughter Cydney and grandchildren Sebrina and