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Saturday, 09 May 2009 13:14

LONG LIVE CHUCK DALY

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As a basketball pupil of the late 1980's, I can remember comparing and contrasting the coaches during the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals. Celtics Coach KC Jones was everything a Boston Celtic should be, quiet and blue collar, a man who rarely lost his composure. KC would be dressed in corduroy pants and wearing the same blazer for every contest of the heated seven game series.Glancing to the visitors bench I noticed Pistons coach Chuck Daly. I remember thinking "now that guy looks like a senator or president". Moments later Coach Daly, disputing a referee's call, flung his clip board across the bench, messed his hair and threw his hands in the air. Coach Daly, though one of the NBA's original "GQ Coaches", was never afraid to show his emotion or get his hands dirty.As a spectator, and Celtics fan, I was well trained to despise the "Bad Boy Pistons". In my mind, Daly seemed to be the "Bad Boys" father trying to contain them. He never seemed to be the protagonist of this physical, sometimes dirty play. In fact, that series was the Pistons coming of age. Game 5 was an embarrassment to Isiah Thomas and Coach Daly as his team, leading by 1 with seconds left, failed to call time out and advance the ball. Bird stole the pass dished it off to a streaking Dennis Johnson and the rest is history. A heavily undermanned and injured Celtics team beat the more talented Pistons in seven games. Daly and his Pistons would have their revenge the following year. Again meeting the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pistons would win in six games. Perhaps this would be the first time the vaunted Pistons defense would be fully displayed. They would hold Larry Bird to 10 points per game on 35% shooting. Daly's Pistons would meet the Celtics two more times in the post season winning both series.Though losing to the LA Lakers in the 1988 finals, the following year Daly would add Magic Johnson and the Lakers to his list of "Pistons Casualties".Chuck Daly and his Detroit Pistons would end Larry Bird and Magic Johnson's 1980's Championship runs in 3 seasons.With Boston and LA out of the picture, The Pistons became the new beast of the east. The Chicago Bulls had the Pistons in their sight.The creator of the "Jordan Rules", Daly's Pistons were possibly the only team to slow down and frustrate Michael Jordan. People tend to forget that it took Michael Jordan three attempts before finally dismantling the Pistons in 1991. In 1991, The Bulls began using the "Triangle Offense" to combat the "Jordan Rules". Coach Phil Jackson's "Triangle Offense" finally broke Jordan and his team mates free of the Pistons grasp and effectively putting an end to Daly's "Bad Boy Era".I guess you can say that Daly's "Jordan Rules" were responsible for creating the "Triangle Offense" which is still in use today by Coach Phil Jackson and his Los Angeles Lakers. Years later Daly said of the "Jordan Rules",

"If Michael was at the point, we forced him left and doubled him. If he was on the left wing, we went immediately to a double team from the top. If he was on the right wing, we went to a slow double team. He could hurt you equally from either wing -- hell, he could hurt you from the hot-dog stand -- but we just wanted to vary the look. And if he was on the box, we doubled with a big guy.

The other rule was, any time he went by you, you had to nail him. If he was coming off a screen, nail him. We didn't want to be dirty -- I know some people thought we were -- but we had to make contact and be very physical."

After resigning as Detroit's head coach in 1992 , he went on to coach the New Jersey Nets and the Orlando Magic.

In 1992, Chuck Daly would coach the original Dream Team, arguably the best basketball team ever assembled, to the gold medal. He would be coaching former foes Bird, Johnson and Jordan all at the same time. Daly's Dream Team went on to average victories of 30 points or more never facing defeat.

Daly spent 9 years coaching the Pistons and will always be remembered as a Detroit Piston. He won two consecutive titles from 1988-1990.

Though the Pistons have raised the #2 to the rafters of the Palace of Auburn Hill in his honor, Chuck Daly will always be #1 in our hearts.