NBA: Daly dead at 78
DETROIT ó 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, died at age 78 Saturday morning, the Pistons said.
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.”
The Pistons announced in March that the Hall of Fame coach had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was undergoing treatment.
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,” Hall of Fame 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.