Even as a Lakers fan during the Showtime Era days, Detroit Pistons head coach Chuck Daly earned my respect. Not only could he match Pat Riley coaching move for coaching move, but he could also match him designer suit for designer suit. Plus, he seemed like he could either drink you under a table, or throw you through one. And his teams were a reflection of this, winning back-to-back NBA titles in 1989 and 1990.
So it pains me to report the following: the DETROIT FREE-PRESS says that Daly has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. His family is asking for privacy and haven’t given further details of his condition, with a family spokesperson saying that “when he was coaching, Chuck was always known as the Prince of Pessimism. Right now, Chuck Daly is the King of Optimism.”
As much as I hate speculating on health issues, the fact is that Daly is 78, and pancreatic cancer is, as Jim Bunning would say, “bad cancer”; according to the Hirshberg Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research, the one-year survival rate for patients is just 20 percent, and the five-year rate is just four percent. And WXYZ-TV in Detroit is reporting that he has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, which has spread to his liver.
Daly is in the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach, and the Pistons have retired the No. 2 in his honor (for his two NBA titles). Plus, he coached the Dream Team to the gold medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics. And by “coached,” I mean “sat back and enjoyed the sun, fun and excitement of Barcelona while Charles Barkley ran over Angolans.” (The less said about his time with the Nets or the Magic, the better.)
After all that heaviness, I don’t want to end the week on a down note. So here’s a funny PSA I found from around 1990 featuring Daly and Sparky Anderson being cranky with each other: