Chuck Daly, Former Duke Basketball Assistant Coach, Passes Away At 78

BabyTateSenior Writer IMay 9, 2009

The obituary and epithet will read "Former Duke assistant coach Chuck Daly passed away on May 9, 2009."

That will be followed by enormous articles regarding his experience coaching the USA Dream Team of 1992, the back-to-back NBA Titles, replacing Bob Cousy as head coach of Boston College, and his domination of the Ivy League while overseeing the Penn Quaker program in the 1970s.

All very true but, doesn't have a thing to do with how this writer will remember him.

Daly was present during the golden era of Duke basketball, the 1960s.

The 1960-66 era was a time when Duke set the ACC records for most league victories in a row, became the first ACC school to make multiple trips to the Final Four, and won more games than any other program.

Coach Daly spent six seasons at Duke, from 1964 through 1969.

Oh, the passing years have rewritten the resume of the man but, not the soul of the man.

Daly was a listener. On the bench, he sat beside head coach Vic Bubas and paid strict attention to the Xs and Os, and learned from a master how to obtain the Jimmys and Joes.

As a recruiter, he seemed to be in the shadow of the other Duke assistants like Bucky Waters and later, Hubie Brown.

But it was the cool and collected Daly that explained to so many blue-collar Pennsylvanians, like himself, how an opportunity to attend an academic temple of learning can prove to be the most rewarding decision in life.

While Waters was making a name for himself by traveling back and forth to Montana to bring in powerful Mike Lewis as a recruiting victory over John Wooden and UCLA, Daly calmly went about bringing in the talent to surround Lewis and provided him with an opportunity to succeed during his career.

It was Daly who observed that Bubas "prepared for the Final Four game with Michigan like the Normandy Invasion" but, it was Waters who seized upon the opportunity to repeat it and become known for the quip.

Despite that media slight, it was Daly who instituted the training sessions and practice times before big games to reflect the dedication and effort he saw coach Bubas put into that Final Four showdown.

That intensive attention to detail would serve Daly well in future endeavors.

Despite being hit in the head with a bag of peanuts at Clemson's old gymnasium, and having a bottle of Sun Drop soft drink tossed at him in the old South Carolina "Barn," Daly maintained a pleasant demeanor and was rarely seen ruffled.

Daly stated more than once he learned "how to dress, act, and coach like a winner from Vic Bubas."

In the NBA days of the 1980s, Daly had the opportunity to tangle with another former Duke assistant coach, and current TNT NBA Analyst, Hubie Brown.

While Daly did not have the spectacular talent available in Detroit to match Brown's  high-wire, "all-world", individual acts in Atlanta, the Pistons werea better basketball team and proved it by winning two NBA titles.

Brown is still seeking his first NBA title as a head coach. No slam on Hubie as he is a former Duke assistant coach as well, just stating a fact. 

An interesting turn of events in professional basketball somehow led to the reputation of Daly as a "screamer, with a hot temper."

What balderdash. 

Daly was an Irishman so he was born with a temper but, he rarely showed flashes prior to it becoming a mental weapon that he used to help his team.

Few coaches have ever been more under control than Daly.

When the United States decided enough was enough with this losing of basketball in the Olympics, who did the nation call upon to lead America to triumph? It was Daly. 

He put together the greatest basketball ensemble ever organized, the 1992 Dream Team. The total destruction of the teams the USA faced that year is still the barometer by which all Olympic performances are measured.

And so it goes, life will go on, and the name of Chuck Daly will live in the annals of professional basketball.

His reputation secure as one of the greatest coaches of all-time, and his place in the hall of greats to pass through Duke. We need no reminder to be thankful for the time "tough Charlie Jerome" Daly spent on the Duke campus.