Remembering Chuck Daly
The last time I saw
Chuck offered a few strategic gems -- "See how
I thought about that night -- and many others -- on Saturday when Chuck died from a cancer that started in his pancreas, was first diagnosed in his liver and finally moved to his stomach.
I thought about the times I would see him during the late 80s and early 90s when we would shake hands and he'd say, "Good to see you. Listen, you owe me any money?"
I thought about the time before a playoff game at the Palace of Auburn Hills, the air thick with tension, when Chuck leaned down to the press table and said to
I thought about afternoon in Monte Carlo when, during the Dream Team's 1992 Olympic preparation -- and I use the word preparation loosely -- I saw Chuck ambling through the hotel lobby on his way to the golf course with
And I thought about that time in November of 2005 when Chuck came to speak at a scholarship banquet I helped organize. When I had told him how much we could afford to pay him, he said, "What? Are you kidding me?" Then he flew round-trip from Florida to Pennsylvania and did the gig for nothing.
The principal way to define a coach is by wins, losses and championships won, and by that metric, of course, Chuck (638-437 in 13 seasons. 75-51 in the postseason, two championships) was an overwhelming success. But I choose to define Chuck this way -- by the respect he earned from the smorgasbord of personalities over whom he held sway. With the possible exception of
His genius was in giving players a lot of rope but always letting them know that someone was holding it at the other end. Chuck sweated only the big stuff, never the small stuff. Most of the obituaries will concentrate on his clothes, his hair and his good looks, all those things that contributed to that "Daddy Rich" nickname he picked up along the way.
"Nobody ever looks bad in a blue suit," he told me, and a thousand others. But in Chuck I always saw a guy who was at heart a high-school coach who happened to make it big, that rare someone with style and substance.