Reflections and flashbacks: Chuck Daly

Here are some articles, from the past and present, about Chuck Daly from various outlets (Note to newspapers: These flashback articles are fantastic and should be posted more often And there is almost no cost for doing so).

I’ll post my thoughts on Daly either later today or tomorrow.


"Daly left mark on Pistons, Dream Team," by Ken Shouler

It was after Game 4 of the 1988 NBA Finals. The Pistons had destroyed the Lakers in body-to-body combat, 111-86. "Adrian Dantley went headhunting twice, after James Worthy and Magic," Los Angeles coach Pat Riley fumed after the game. Asked about the Pistons’ hyperphysical play, Chuck Daly said he didn’t encourage it, explaining coyly that his undersized Pistons couldn’t win with that style against a team of thoroughbreds like Los Angeles.

Then Daly reversed himself.

"Things change from the regular season into the playoffs," he added. "The game is more physical. But look at us; if we and the Lakers lined up next to each other five-on-five, position-by-position, we come out on the short end. They’re studs — they make us look like a mongrel team."

There was the rationale. It was Detroit, brandishing a combative Eastern style, against the superabundantly talented habitués of Rodeo Drive. Due to their rough style, the Pistons came to be known as the "Bad Boys."

Detroit News

"Chuck Daly’s memorable moments," by Terry Foster

The Pistons had just played a tough game against the Boston Celtics at the old Boston Garden. During a time-out, Daly and forward Adrian Dantley got into the most horrific argument I’ve ever seen during my years of covering the NBA. It seemed to last forever. Daly and Dantley screamed and cursed within inches of one another.

Later that night the Pistons remained at the team hotel because of a flight curfew at Logan Airport. I ran into Daly in the hotel bar and he was still livid.

"We’ve got to get rid of him," Daly said.

Daly’s words were much spicier, but you get the point.

I was stunned because players and coaches often kept private matters from the media. I promised not to write about our meeting then. But it was still interesting to see the anger still boiling in his soul.

He believed that Dantley slowed the offense and caused the four other players to stand around while Dantley went through his routine of posting up his man and trying to set up a slow drive to the hoop.

A few weeks later Dantley was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for Mark Aguirre. Everybody assumed that point guard Isiah Thomas orchestrated the trade behind the scenes. Maybe he did push for the trade. But Daly was also a proponent.

"Pistons owner likes new coach," by Bill Halls

Bill Davidson stayed out of the limelight at Chuck Daly’s press conference yesterday afternoon but it was clear that he was pleased with General Manager Jack McCloskey’s choice for a new Pistons coach.

"I feel this is a step forward," said Davidson, the chief stockholder and operating partner of the 11-member group that owns the Pistons. "I talked with Daly before Jack made the decision. We never got that far with Jack McKinney,"

McKinney, the other leading candidate for the Pistons’ coaching job, apparently wants to stay with the Indiana Pacers where he coached last season.

"Pistons’ choice to hire Daly as coach surprises," by Bill Halls

Daly replaces Scotty Robertson, who was fired April 18 after failing to make the NBA playoffs. When McCloskey fired Robertson, he said the team’s lack of defensive progress was the major reason for his decision.

Actually, Daly turned down the job Robertson accepted three years ago. At that time, Daly also turned down a chance to coach the San Antonio Spurs, largely because his wife, Terry, who was raised in the East, couldn’t face up to the "culture shock" of moving to Texas.

Daly has said he turned the Pistons down because his daughter, Cydney, was in high school and he didn’t want to uproot her.

At the time he was Billy Cunningham’s top aide with the Philadelphia 76ers.

"I had an outstanding situation in Philly," said Daly. "I was treated well financially.

"The circumstances were different then. This is a much better club than the one Detroit had three years ago."

Daly called the young Pistons "a club of the future" and said he found out in nearly five years with the Sixers and his brief tenure in Cleveland "how difficult it is to win every day at this level."

He didn’t promise a playoff berth but was quick to point out that he believed that defense was the key to winning.

"If you want to move in this league, you’ve to do it defensively," said Daly. "If one thing can be taught, it’s defense.

"From what little I’ve seen of the Pistons, they have too many turnovers and get too many shots blocked. I’m a true believer that you win with shot blocking and steals along with quickness to loose balls."

"Love of game, motivation Daly’s chief assets," by Bill Halls

This is no snake-oil salesman talking. This is a guy who frequently spends 16 hours a day working on game plans, match-ups and motivational techniques.

Most of the Pistons learned that on the first day of training camp. It took longer for some than others, but they all believe now.

Motivation is a Daly staple. Once, Isiah Thomas was burned for 9 quick points by Cleveland’s Jon Bagley in the first half. "You want to guard another guy?" Daly remarked to Thomas just before the second half.

Incensed by the implied slight, Thomas went out and smothered Bagley in the second half. The Pistons won.

"It ticked me off," said Thomas. Daly’s casual remark had made Thomas try harder.

"Pistons like Daly’s style on the court — and off it," by Dave Dye

"You’re constantly fighting your own ego. That was one of the hardest things for me. In high school, I was very, very strict. I thought I had to be the hard guy. If one of the kids didn’t play aggressively one day, I’d make him wear a towel around himself the next. It looked like a dress, and it told him he was a sissy.

"I learned over the years, though, and I became more open-minded. I remember when I was a (biology) teacher. I used to be so organized and strict in taking attendance. And I did everything straight out of the book. I thought that was being such a good teacher. At the same school, there was another guy who was really laid-back. It didn’t seem like he was doing anything. He told them stories and there didn’t seem to be any control in the class. At least compared to some of our classes. But we found out later he was the best teacher. The kids related to him better and did the work. I think that opened up my eyes quite a bit.

Daly’s coaching philosophy has been based on that criteria. Vince Lombardi would shudder, but Daly is more or less one of the guys. At practices, he often jokes around. He can be seen practicing imaginary golf shots or trying to bounce a basketball off the floor into the hoop.

"In this business a lot of people get treated badly," said Piston Vinnie Johnson. "It means something when you know there’s a guy you can trust. Some coaches are afraid to get involved with that type of relationship. They feel the players may take advantage of them then. They have to try to scare you into doing things. But that’s not how it works here."

Said Thomas: "We do more for him because of that. He’s helped me with things off the court. You don’t forget that when you’re out there."

Unlike many coaches, Daly doesn’t see getting close to his players as a dangerous practice. "This is such a long grind, there are many nights they don’t have to play (hard)," he said. "You better be a reason for them to do that. Anyhow, I’m not as nice as everybody always says. I put my foot down when I have to. But I just see no reason why there has to be a constant conflict if you can avoid it."

Thomas, realizing Daly eventually will leave, said, "Chuck will be missed, not only as our coach, but as our friend."

"Daly cool, knowing task ahead is hard," by Joe Falls

LOS ANGELES — Chuck Daly looked like a loser.

The TV cameras picked him up as he started off the floor following the Pistons’ title-clinching victory over theLos Angeles Lakers, and he looked as if his team had just blown one to the New Jersey Nets or the Portland Trail Blazers.

What was this all about?

More than half-hour after the game, they brought him into the interview room, and he was asked how it felt to win his first basketball championship.

Daly thought for a moment and said it was different from what he thought it would be. He said it wasn’t as exciting as he thought it would be. He said he had a few moments earlier in the day when he got a little emotional about the possibility of winning it all, but when it got right down to it — the moment of triumph — it was … well, it was OK.

He then offered the time-honored comment that it would probably hit him later on, when he had more time to think about it.

What this was all about is that an honest man was displaying his honest feelings. He was pleased he had won — who wouldn’t be? But he knew what it took to get there … the great sacrifices that were needed to become a champion … and this seemed to occupy his mind more than the moment of victory.

"A dog’s life keeps Daly with Detroit," by Joe Falls

He couldn’t give it up because he needs it in his life.

This man cannot sit still. Ask his wife. Ask his daughter. Ask his coaches. Ask his players. He always has to be doing something, going somewhere, working, talking, making speeches, making commercials, appearing on TV, doing a radio show. If you know him at all, you know he hardly has time to sleep. Three hours, four hours a night, max. Then he is up and running again, grabbing a cup of tea here, a bagel there, maybe stopping in at church, visiting his favorite clothing store, hitting a few golf balls, talking on the phone for two hours, looking at tapes, studying statistics, working out new plays on his magnetic board, reading newspapers, books, magazines … all while trying to figure out one more variation to his celebrated "Jordan Rules," the complicated scheme he developed to slow down the star of the Chicago Bulls.

The thought of giving up all this scared him. He is a man who does not want to get old. Soon, he will be 60. He wants to be 30. His fear was that a career in TV — one game a week, maybe two a month — would slow him down, and Father Time would start making up ground on him.

As long as he is storming up and down the sidelines, the gods will leave him alone.

"Stylish to the end: Here’s a toast to the best professional basketball coach in city’s history," by Bryan Burwell

There was not a hint of sadness or anger in his voice as Daly announced his resignation as head coach of the Pistons. He was saying farewell, even though we all know there is a lot of coaching left in him, coaching that will be done in some other city, with some other players, in front of an arena filled with strangers.

So why is he leaving? That is the nagging question that seemed to ring out in the room to all the outsiders who didn’t know much about the inner heartbeat of the Pistons. Why was he leaving? This is the man who had come in here nine seasons ago and turned the Pistons into something worth watching. Back-to-back NBA crowns, three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, five straight visits to the Eastern Conference finals, three straight Central Division crowns. The most successful man to ever sit on the end of the bench. So why was he leaving?

"Because it’s just time," Daly said with a crooked smile spreading across his face. "It’s just time."

It was just time. That seemed to be enough to say. It was time to go because after nine long, often glorious years, the thrill was gone. The relationship between players and coach, coach and general manager, had simply run its course. It happens to the best ones sooner or later. It happened to Pat Riley in Los Angeles. It happened to Red Holzman in New York.

"After all this time, your voice loses a certain affect," Daly said. "How many times can a John Salley keep on listening to the same thing."

Detroit Free Press

"Daly’s coaching style leaves legacy," by Drew Sharp

There was one day following a practice at Oakland University that Daly and Salley were engaged in an apparently serious conversation. It had nothing to do with the game. They were comparing notes on how they liked their suits tailored. Chuck liked his pants cuffed.

That’s why Salley gave Daly the enduring moniker “Daddy Rich.”

"Albom on Daly’s resignation (1992)," by Mitch Albom

Of course, anyone who knew Daly understands Salley’s logic: Chuck made you feel good when he noticed you. True, he sometimes behaved as crudely as a barfly — in his time, he worked as a dishwasher, a bouncer, and a grunt in a leather factory, slapping hides in the lime pits. He also ate like a slob. I’m sorry, Chuck, but the first time I interviewed you, seven years ago, you slurped clam chowder all over yourself, your sleeves, your hands, and last time I watched you eat, last month, well, it wasn’t much better.

But having said that, I must add this: that was part of his charm. The regular guy from Punxsutawney, Pa., lurking beneath those expensive Italian suits, just longing to bust out for a whiskey with the boys and get really loose and loud. And Daly could get loud. He still does some of the best yelling in the NBA. He croaks. He roars. He waves his arms and bangs on tables and hollers, "AW, GIMME A BLEEPIN’ BREAK!"

Once, when Aguirre was tossing one bad shot after another, Daly grabbed the telephone from press row, lifted the receiver and screamed, "HEY MARK! IT’S THE CBA!" Another time, he came to practice after a particularly bad loss and bellowed: "Practice today will last only long enough to throw up!" There was the night he did a strenuous jump at a referee — and split his pants! We sat the rest of the game holding our sides laughing, because he didn’t know: Daddy Rich, Mr. GQ, with his underwear sticking out.

"Vincent on Daly’s induction into Hall of Fame (’94)," by Charlie Vincent

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — It was not a question Chuck Daly wanted to answer, but the reporter persisted.

After all, the guy is almost 64 years old.

After all, he has been coaching since they used peach baskets for goals.

Since everyone wore black canvas tennis shoes. Since pencil-thin ties were in
style (and you can bet he had a closetful of them).

What, the reporter wanted to know, would Daly like as an epitaph?

"I really would rather not think about it," he said.

But he did, and he answered: "Nice guy. . . . I’d like to be known as a nice guy."

"Vincent on Daly’s ‘jersey’ retirement (’97)," by Charlie Vincent

And all the while, Daly showed off the expensive suits; the warm-up suits with the monogram CD on the chest, which stood not for Chuck Daly but for Christian Dior; the emotional bursts on the sidelines; the well-coiffed hair; an occasional touch of wry humor.

He showed, too, a genuine link with his players, most evident in his relationship with Rodman, whose behavior still troubles him.

"We raised him," Daly said. "He was always a friend. He was so easy to deal with, and now I’m a little concerned.

"I know a lot of what he does is pulling everyone’s leg. He told me that he’d learned rebounding isn’t enough. But this last incident, you just don’t do that. Those cameras are too close, that has been a bone of contention with me for a while, and if you see Michael Jordan hurt, you’ll see a whole different ballgame. Dennis was trying to keep from getting hurt and he was mad about it.

"But you just don’t do what he did."

FOX Sports

"Daly a pioneering legend in the coaching world," by Randy Hill

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.

AOL FanHouse

"College or Pros, Chuck Daly Won," by Matt Steinmetz

When I think of Daly, however, I don’t think of those "Bad Boys" Pistons teams or the ridiculously talented pro players he coached in Barcelona. No, I think of Chuck Daly every time I hear the argument that college coaches cannot succeed at the NBA level.

Daly coached the Penn Quakers from 1971 to 1976, and he ended up doing pretty well in the pros. If you can coach, you can coach. That’s what Daly was about.

True, Daly spent a few years as an NBA assistant before getting his first head coaching opportunity, but the fact remains that he had coached in high school and college for more than 20 years and only been a pro guy for three seasons when he got his first job.

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