The Detroit Pistons giant who coached the ‘Dream Team’
Dubbed “Daddy Rich” because of his impeccable suits and perfectly coiffed hair, Chuck Daly was one of basketball’s most memorable coaches. Blessed with the ability to make disparate players work together, he led the Detroit Pistons to back-to-back NBA titles and the 1992 U.S. Olympic “Dream Team” to a gold medal.
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A Pennsylvania native, Daly coached college basketball at Duke University, Boston College, and the University of Pennsylvania, where he amassed a 125–38 record, said The Washington Post. He was fired from his first NBA head coach job, with the Cleveland Cavaliers, after losing 32 of 41 games. Then in 1983 he joined the Pistons, which had gone through five coaches in six seasons and were known as basketball’s “Bad Boys.” To their “ornery, inspired, contentious, and relentless defense,” Daly added “an offense that played with the precision and discipline of an army.” With such stars as Dennis Rodman, Bill Laimbeer, and Rick Mahorn, Detroit won the 1989 and 1990 NBA championships.
Over 14 NBA seasons, Daly compiled a 638–437 record, said The Philadelphia Inquirer. In 1992, “he entered the pressure cooker of coaching NBA players in the Barcelona Olympics.” The Dream Team comprised Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Patrick Ewing, among others. “With the world watching, Daly found ways to keep all his superstars happy and productive while using a different lineup in each game.” Coping with all those competing egos, Bird said, was “not a problem for Chuck. His ego is as big as any of ours.”
Daly died of pancreatic cancer, which was diagnosed two months ago. During the ongoing NBA playoffs, coaches have worn pins adorned with Daly’s initials in his honor.
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