Detroit Pistons Coach Dreams: Adrian Dantley



Age: 55

Current Job: None

Previous experience:

  • Assistant Coach, Denver Nuggets  (2003-2011)


Dantley is a Hall of Fame player, a Pistons legend and he has significant experience as an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets.

The Pistons have interviewed former big-men greats Bill Laimbeer (to great acclaim among fans) and Patrick Ewing (to not so great acclaim among fans) for the head job. Part of the reasoning, I assume, is that the Pistons would like a coach who can help Greg Monroe take the next step after a promising rookie season and develop a better low-post game. I would argue that if it’s low-post fundamentals the team is after, there is no better coach for Monroe or any young big than Dantley. Dantley was simply a better post player than Laimbeer or Ewing were. Now, Laimbeer and Ewing were superior in other areas, but Dantley, as an undersized and unathletic four, used a variety of jab-steps, moves, counter-moves and craftiness to do most of his damage around the basket against bigger players.

On top of that, he was a beloved former Piston who was nicknamed ‘Teacher’ by his teammates. He was also a friend and mentor to a young Joe Dumars:

"Thomas’s backcourt mate, Joe Dumars, was deeply saddened that Dantley, who had been his best friend among his teammates, was gone, but he held his tongue about the deal. In a gesture of respect, Dumars requested a DANTLEY 45 jersey as a keepsake."

Dumars also told SLAM a few years ago that, “Adrian is my favorite teammate ever.” Dantley would be a surprise candidate for this job. But as the interview with Ewing proved, the Pistons apparently aren’t opposed to looking at surprise candidates.


Dantley has a reputation as being a bit stuck in his ways, dating back to his playing days. He didn’t leave Detroit on the greatest terms, believing that Isiah Thomas orchestrated the trade that sent him away. He also had an audition as a head coach, taking over for George Karl when Karl was battling cancer. The team’s performance fell off with Dantley at the helm and the Nuggets were eliminated in the first round.

The recent circumstances surrounding his departure from Denver also don’t sound like things that would help build a case for hiring him as a head coach.


I am actually intrigued by the idea of Dantley on Detroit’s coaching staff, just not as the head coach. Dantley has worked with young post players for a long time, even before he became a NBA assistant (he was at a camp I went to at Olivet College and spent a day working with 14- and 15-year-olds on footwork). I think he could do wonders working with Monroe, Jonas Jerebko, Vernon Macklin or any other young bigs the Pistons add to the roster.