Perhaps the most underrated coach in recent NBA history died on Saturday morning. What he'll be remembered for is simple: Chuck Daly was able to corral some of the strongest personalities in the sport and several times formed daunting basketball powers.
I covered Daly when he coached the New Jersey Nets which had hardheaded players like Derrick Coleman and Kenny Anderson. Daly was able to get the most from those players and make the entire thig mesh. He was, at times, brilliant.
I always believed that Daly's time in New Jersey was one of the best coaching jobs of his career and that's saying something.
As coach of the Detroit Pistons he crafted a team that was tough on defense and understated in its elegance. Daly was able to reach players like the freakish Dennis Rodman, getting even him (most of the time) to fit into the Piston team concept. Those Bad Boys won two titles. It's no coincidence that after Rodman left Detroit and Daly's influence Rodman ended up in a death defying spiral, his life out of control.
As coach of the Dream Team Olympic champions Daly got an eclectic, hodepodge group of eternals to mesh.
Daly was always able to command the respect of his players while never being subservient to them or allowing them to undermine his authority. That trick is the toughest part of coaching and Daly pulled it off like a skilled magician.
That will be his legacy. He was a man who dressed sharply and coached smartly but was respected by his players. He also won championships.
Not a bad legacy. Not a bad legacy to have at all.