Chuck Daly, who led the Pistons to back-to-back NBA titles in 1990 and 1991, coached the Men’s Olympic Team to a gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Games, and captured 4 Ivy League championships at the University Of Pennsylvania, passed away earlier today after a long battle with cancer. Daly, whose resume also included head coaching stints at Boston College, and the NBA’s Cavaliers, Nets and Magic, is remembered by the Detroit Free Press’ Drew Sharp as “the architect of the physical style that won the Pistons championships and notoriety, the immaculately clad head coach who ordered the basketball hit because he saw no other available path for a team that lacked the glitter of its contemporaries.” For the New York Post’s Marc Berman, it’s a shame Daly never coached the New York Knicks.
As the Nets coach, he didn’t like being second banana to the Knicks, couldn’t stomach the eccentricies of Derrick Coleman, Kenny Anderson, Chris Morris, even Jayson Williams.
I remember Daly being so ticked at Jayson Williams for guaranteeing a win in the 1994 first round against the Knicks, that he benched him. Daly was so hallowed as the leader of the former Bad Boys, none of the Nets writers took him to task for banishing their best big-man defender in Williams on principle.
In recent years, I spoke to him on the phone, reaching him at his home in Jupiter, Fla., talked mostly about Isiah Thomas. To the end, Daly defended Thomas fiercely, never wavered an inch. He had a fascination with NYC sports and always told me he still picked up the early edition of the The Post in Florida.
A couple of years ago, he called me in a rage when he saw the backpage of The Post, where we highlighted a story quoting him that Isiah should move upstairs and not coach. He was relieved to find out that was only the early edition and he wasn’t on the backpage for most of the copies.