May 9, 2009, - 11:03 pm

Chuck Daly, “Daddy Rich” & America’s Classiest Coach, Rest in Peace

By Debbie Schlussel
In early March, I told you about the sad news that legendary former Detroit Pistons and USA Olympic Team basketball coach, Chuck Daly, was ill with pancreatic cancer. Even more sad, Daly died this morning.
As a Pistons fan in high school and college, I had the pleasure of meeting this immensely classy coach who knew how to coach big stars with big egos and still win. I and my little brother were Pistons fans because of Daly, as he took the team from a perennial loser and the butt of jokes to a champion operation. He was ahead of his time as one of the first NBA coaches to use offensive style basketball to win. His coaching won two NBA championships and an Olympic Gold Medal when he coached the USA Basketball “Dream Team.”
Daly earned the nickname, “Daddy Rich,” from former Detroit Piston basketball player John Salley, who gave him the moniker for his thousand dollar fancy suits. He was always immaculate on the outside, but also on the inside. While Michelle Obama harps on her father’s working class past which isn’t reflected one bit in herself, Chuck Daly was the real thing. His fancy suits never covered up his working class persona and ethic.


Chuck Daly, Legendary Coach & Class Act, RIP

Chuck Daly, one of America’s sports greats and always a class act, Rest in Peace.
Below, I repost what I wrote about Chuck Daly when news of his illness was announced:

March 6, 2009
Chuck Daly: Pray For One of Sports’ Classiest Coaches
By Debbie Schlussel
As kids, my little brother and I were always big fans of Chuck Daly. We are twelve years apart and we had, among other things, our fandom of the Detroit Pistons in common. The legendary Detroit Pistons head coach–who led the Pistons “Bad Boys” to two back-to-back NBA championshipa–was always a nice guy and class act, in an industry filled with headcases, including on the coaching side. And he also coached the U.S. Olympic Basketball Team known as “The Dream Team” to win the Gold Medal.
Today, we learned that this true gentleman has been stricken with pancreatic cancer, the cancer which is quickly fatal for all but 5% of cases. As readers know, I lost someone near and dear to me to this horrible disease from which few live past five years and most live only months after diagnosis.
Chuck Daly was a coaches’ coach, with old-fashioned values you don’t much see in today’s pro coaches. When my brother and I met him in various settings, he was always down to earth and kind. And remember, this is the guy who had to simultaneously deal with the egos of Dennis Rodman, John Salley, and Isiah Thomas. (Yes, Bill Laimbeer played for him, too, but he wasn’t a problem child, just a “Bad Boy” who played his role.)
Sadly, Chuck Daly is apparently in Stage Four of the cancer. But you never know. Sometimes, miracles happen.
I pray for Chuck Daly’s recovery and hope that he is comforted and does not suffer.
I’ve met few nicer, classier people in pro sports (and I used to be a sports agent, so I’ve met many).
Chuck Daly is the walking definition of a mensch, and I wish him much energy and strength in this fight for his life.

Yes, the late Chuck Daly is more evidence of the old saying, “They don’t make ’em like they used to.” Especially in pro basketball and sports in general.

4 Responses


mindy1 on May 10, 2009 at 7:28 am

I’m a Knicks fan, but I respect greatness. Very sad.

SimonStudio on May 10, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Simon, since you are a Knicks fan, to me that team’s greatest coach, the man who has his own banner atop MSG–number 612, is the late great Red Holzman. The 612 refers to the number of career wins for Holzman, including 2 NBA titles in 1970 and 1973.
It’s the 1970 team that will go down in history for being highlighted by the walking out of the tunnel by Willis Reed for game 7. Though Willis scored on his first two baskets, the game belonged to Walt “Clyde” Frazier in terms of scoring. Believe me, I have seen the video so many times.
Deb, when you hear about pancreatic cancer, it may as well these days be a death sentence. No one knows how its caused nor cured.
Sadly we are forced to hear from Jimmah Carter and those PSAs from the Lustgarten Foundation.
Chuck Daly was the class behind those bad boys. So long Coach. Say hi to the two Reds, Auerbach and Holzman.

NEPatriot on May 10, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Leave a Reply

* denotes required field