I just caught word of this awful news as I'm in East Lansing celebrating my little brother's graduation from Michigan State University. On such a great day for my brother, there couldn't be worse coinciding news.
When Chuck Daly was unfortunately diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer a couple months ago, Daly was entering a battle for the first time in his life that did not seem winnable. Sadly, he did lose that battle this morning, but not before leaving a legacy that will always have him dubbed as a competitor and most notably: a winner.
Daly is also nicknamed Daddy Rich, a name first given to him by John Salley for his snazzy suits and personality. According to the Free Press:
His signature style was a pinstriped, three-piece suit. Silk. A little flash of color on the tie or pocket square. And of course it always was a perfect fit. Daly once said, "Tailoring covers your sins." He topped his look with a full head of shampoo-ad worthy, never-mussed, voluptuous hair.
Nicknames are fun to discuss and, most of the time, appropriate, but what it all boils down to is this guy's coaching abilities. Daly coached the Pistons for nine seasons, starting in 1983, had a .633 winning percentage, and led them to the playoffs each of his nine seasons. In 1989 and 1990 he coached the "Bad Boys" to two NBA Championships. In 1992 he coached the "Dream Team" to the Gold Medal.
He was renowned for his ability to create harmony out of diverse personalities at all levels of the game, whether they were Ivy Leaguers at Pennsylvania, Dream Teamers Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, or Pistons as dissimilar as Dennis Rodman and Joe Dumars.
Daly was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 1994, and then, in 1997, the Pistons retired No. 2 to the rafters in his name signifying the two championships he won.
In what has seemed like a year full of losses for Detroit (Mr. Davidson, Mrs. Gordie Howe, and even the Detroit Lions) the loss of Chuck Daly brings the greatest sadness to me.
Daly was the coach of the Pistons when I, at the age of five around the 2nd championship season in 1990, first consciously fell in love with my hometown organization. Daly also reminded me of a great coach I had growing up playing AAU basketball, a person who had a special knack for breaking down players perfectly to get the very best out of them. Daly, like my AAU coach, prided his teams on toughness and defense.
Honestly, in moments like this you can't really put feelings into words and, sometimes, it almost does a disservice to the person's legacy to even try. What I can do is bow my head, say a prayer for the Daly family, and hope that Mr. Daly rests peacefully in heaven.