Chuck Daly guided the Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn-led Detroit Pistons to two straight championships in 1989 and 1990.
The two-time Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, also led the star studded 1992 Dream Team that included Michael Jordan, Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson and Larry Bird to a gold medal.
With all of the talent he’s coached, get this: he disliked practice.
Practice?! Yes, we’re talking about practice!
“The best thing about Chuck was that he didn’t like practice,” NBA legend, John Salley told me on Scoop B Radio.
Salley, the first player in NBA history to play on three different championship-winning franchises, won his first championship with the Detroit Pistons in 1989, during their Bad Boy era, under Coach Daly.
Salley says that Pistons practices usually lasted between an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and twenty minutes.
“Crazy thing is when I was on Detroit you would see guys staying after practice to shoot, going to the training room and the weight room,” he said.
“And Chuck didn’t even have to say anything because we knew that we were professionals and we knew what we had to do.”
The former host of Fox Sports’ Best Damn Sports Show, Period also holds the distinction of being the first player in NBA history to win a championship in three different decades.
Salley also played for the Chicago Bulls, where he won a championship under head coach Phil Jackson in 1996.
He broke down the differences between Daly and Jackson. “The difference when we got to Chicago was that we started practice in the weight room,” he said.
“And we started all the training and the stuff we had to get done for 45 minutes and then we practiced so there’s a reason that he had six championships in eight years, because Phil knew how to prepare you to be the best athlete. With Chuck Daly, guys used to come to training camp to get in shape.”
Salley concedes that it’s a different world then vs. now. “The difference with athletes now is that they come ready made,” he said.
Salley also said that during his playing career, Chuck Daly would threaten to trade him to the Milwaukee Bucks. “Daly used to say to me: ‘Sal if you keep playing bad I’m going to trade you to Milwaukee,’ because he knew I would rather be anywhere else but Milwaukee,” he said.
“He would see me in the hotel and be like: ‘where are you going?’ And I’d be like: ‘there’s nowhere to go, I got to walk around the hotel.’ And he’d be like: ‘imagine if you played here’ and I’d say: ‘I couldn’t play here, now I know why they traded Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] after he won the championship.’ He had to go back to the West Coast! So that was my motivation, plus we knew what we had to do.”
Salley believes that Daly’s motivating tactics also worked for other players. “Chuck Daly would say: ‘you guys are men’ and tell guys what he needed from them in order to win on the team,” he said.
“And we had this way of not wanting anyone to embarrass us, so you know sometimes a guy would shake you and score on you and that was embarrassing. So we decided: ‘don’t let anybody score period.’ And that was Chuck’s leadership.”
Daly was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2009 and died two months later at the age of 78.
With a 14 year coaching career in the NBA, Daly amassed a 638-437 record as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, New Jersey Nets and Orlando Magic. He was named one of the top ten coaches in NBA history in 1996.
That illustrious list also includes: Red Auerbach, Bill Fitch, Red Holzman, Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Lenny Wilkens, Dr. Jack Ramsay, John Kundla and Don Nelson.