2021 Class of FIBA Hall of Fame: Chuck Daly

MIES (Switzerland) – Chuck Daly, who led the Detroit Pistons to back-to-back NBA titles and then famously coached the USA Dream Team to the gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics, is being inducted to the FIBA Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2021.

Daly (USA) is being enshrined posthumously. Fellow coaching greats Tom Maher (Australia) and Ettore Messina (Italy), and legendary players Mathieu Faye (Senegal), Hana Horakova (Czech Republic), Stanislav Kropilak (Slovakia), Oscar Moglia (Uruguay – posthumously), Detlef Schrempf (Germany), Penka Stoyanova (Bulgaria – posthumously), Sergey Tarakanov (Russia) and Haixia Zheng (China) are also in the Class of 2021.

When people hear the name Chuck Daly, many remember the coach for his stylish attire, and his success at the helm of the Pistons, and the USA Dream Team at the 1992 Olympics.

Yet Daly’s coaching career began way before, in 1955, at Punxsutawney Area High School in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He stayed in that role until 1963, when he moved to Durham, North Carolina, to serve as an assistant coach to Vic Bubas at Duke University.

In 1969, Daly took the reins at Boston College but then returned to the Keystone State in 1971 and began a stint of several years as coach of the University of Pennsylvania. He guided the Quakers to four Ivy League crowns.

Next was the NBA.

His foray into the league didn’t go well at first. Hired as an assistant with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1978, Daly stayed in the role until Cleveland offered him his first head coach job in the league during the 1981-82 season. He was let go with the team struggling.

Having returned to Philadelphia to work as a commentator for 76ers games, the Pistons called, in 1983. It ended up being his launchpad to greatness. He led the Pistons into the NBA playoffs in every single year he was in charge, through the 1991-92 season

Coaching a team that became known as the “Bad Boys” for its rough and physical play, one that had Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer, Vinnie “the Microwave” Johnson, Dennis Rodman, Mark Aguirre, James Edwards, John Salley and Rick Mahorn, the Pistons swept the Los Angeles Lakers in four games in the 1989 NBA Finals.

The following year, Daly steered the Pistons back to the NBA Finals and this time, they beat the Portland Trail Blazers in five games.

With the USA able to send NBA superstars to the Olympics for the first time in 1992,  Daly was a great choice to coach the Dream Team. First, however, the team had to qualify.

The team was unveiled at the FIBA AmeriCup 1992 (it was called Tournament of the Americas at the time) in Portland, Oregon, and had an awesome assemblage of talent. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, John Stockton, Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Davidson Robinson, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullen, Patrick Ewing and Christian Laettner were on the roster and easily won the event.

Next, with Daly still at the helm, the Dream Team traveled to Europe and took the world by storm with dazzling performance after dazzling performance. They won the gold medal with spectacular performances, and captured the hearts of basketball fans everywhere.

Daly returned to the NBA and coached the New Jersey Nets from 1992-94. That afforded him the opportunity to work with one of Europe’s legends, Drazen Petrovic, who thrived under Daly.

He ended his coaching career with the Orlando Magic in 1999. Daly passed away 10 years later at the age of 78.

His legend lives on, though. The NBA gives out the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award annually to a basketball coach that has demonstrated Daly’s “standard of integrity, competitive excellence and tireless promotion” of the game.

He is now going into the FIBA Hall of Fame.