Once I heard the news that former Detroit Pistons coach Chuck Daly had been hospitalized with something related to cancer, I knew it wasn't going to end well. I didn't know how old he was but figured he had to be up there since he didn't look like a spring chicken back in the 80s. Turns out I was right.
I always had a pretty intense love-hate relationship with the Detroit Pistons of the 80s, otherwise known as the original Bad Boys. On the one hand, I admired how hard they worked to consistently stay contenders and bringing back-to-back championships to Detroit. On the other hand, I couldn't stand how they were some deliberately dirty players yet didn't want to admit it.
There were a few of the Pistons that I did have respect for. Okay...maybe just one and that was Joe Dumars. However, I always thought their coach, Chuck Daly must have been some sort of genius to be able to get that hodge podge group to perform as a cohesive unit like that year-after-year. He had the look of an old school slick Mafia don and the Pistons seemed to be his lieutenants.
One thing that always stuck with me was when it came time to pick the Dream Team for the 1992 Olympics, Daly was chosen as the man to coach the squad of future Hall of Famers. The one name conspicuously missing from the roster was Isiah Thomas, from his very own Pistons. So even with as heralded a coach as he was, he still didn't have enough pull to override Jordan's implied insistence that Zeke not be on the squad.
Nevertheless, Daly knew how to do something right when it mattered. Good enough to make World Champions twice in a row. He may not have been able to catch lightning a second time when he later coached the Magic in 1997 for two seasons, but he had the late 80s on lockdown.
Rest in peace, Coach.