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Interview with Chuck Daly

Thursday, August 14, 2008 , Posted by dAVe at 5:11 PM

Pistons legend and Hall of Fame coach Chuck Daly coached the Dream Team to Gold in Barcelona
SECAUCUS, N.J.--The man who never called a timeout in the ’92 Barcelona Olympics coaching the Dream Team to a convincing gold medal performance is watching these Beijing Games intently, most notably, the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team. John Hareas of spoke with Hall of Famer Chuck Daly, who weighed in on the U.S.’s strengths, weaknesses, the just completed Greece-U.S. matchup, Saturday’s game vs. Spain and why it is advantageous for Coach K to call as many timeout as possible during the team’s march to gold. First off, what were you impressions of the game against Greece this morning? Obviously, a different outcome from two years ago…

Chuck Daly: Well I think, as stated by some of the players, this game has been on their calendar. They knew that this is the team that had defeated USA in the previous World Championships, and I think they were ready for the challenge, to say the least. What were some of the things that kind of jumped out to you watching the game this morning?

Chuck Daly: Well, the No. 1 thing is their defense, they are ferocious defensively. They do a lot more trapping. And secondly, you’re going to have a hard time getting shots off inside. I know that a lot of people were concerned about the lack of size. But there’s size there, you can bring in [Chris] Bosh and guys like LeBron James playing 6’7” height-wise, but they probably play closer to 6’10” or 6’11”. Getting a shot off inside is extremely difficult, so consequently they get a lot of blocked shots and run-outs, they get a lot of steals – run-outs. And a team to really challenge is going to have to have tremendous ball-handlers and great patience. When you look at this team what strikes you as the real strength of this team?

Chuck Daly: Their overall athleticism and their attitude. Where are they vulnerable in the international game?

Chuck Daly: I don’t think they are. I know that everybody keeps preaching it, I hear it on TV that, “Well wait ’til, wait ’til we reach so-and-so, wait ’til we reach so-and-so.”

I don’t think this team is vulnerable because they’ve been set up differently by Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski. They carefully chose the right people who they knew would be competitive. They also chose people who are very, very athletic and talented, and great basketball players. They’re very deep. Today they played only eight people, basically, the first half when they made their run, which is unusual. Normally, most coaches have to try to get everybody in – they don’t have to do it. I’m not saying this will be a cakewalk, but quite frankly, I think we’re just too strong. Three-point shooting doesn’t concern you, especially with the shorter three-point line?

Chuck Daly: That comes and goes with anybody. Who has stood out in your mind? Dwyane Wade is speaking volumes with his play off the bench …

Chuck Daly: Well, he’s not a bench player, I mean, he’s one of our premier players, certainly. He’s coming off injuries, but you know, I mean he pretty much carried Miami to a championship several years ago, scoring well into the 30s and 40s. He’s a brilliant player, and we have a lot of them: Carmelo (Anthony), LeBron, Chris Paul, everybody kind of steps up a little bit differently depending on what the game is. And what’s happened is, because Mike [Krzyzewski] has been together with these people for so long, he now understands their games. When you put together in a short period of time, you don’t understand much about what their game is, so he can plug them in accordingly. From someone whose been on the hot seat coaching NBA players in the Olympics, what is Coack K going through in terms of his goal of delivering on the enormous expectations?

Chuck Daly: Well I think down deep he’s very confident. But there’s always the apprehension. And you can see it, there’s a small spot on his left cheek that gets very red during the game, and that indicates to me he’s feeling some kind of anticipation, apprehension, whatever you want to call it. Because, you know, you’re not supposed to lose in this position. And I told our players in ’92, “There’s two islands off the coast there of Barcelona,” I said, “One is a swinging place, the other has a lot of caves, high wind, high suicide rate. If we don’t win this thing, we won’t be able to go Majorca, we’ll go to Minorca, and we won’t be able to return to the United States, I can tell you that.” When people stop you on the street and want to talk about the Dream Team, what’s the one thing people like to ask you about?

Chuck Daly: The mystique of it. To bring all of those superstars in our profession together would be like taking about five rock groups, the Beatles, et cetera, and traveling with them, in the basketball world, and the sports world. Six thousand journalists were there, it was, you know, it was an unusual situation and that’s what they talk about. And the way the players handled themselves. They handled themselves so well during those Olympics. They went to other venues; they mingled with the other athletes. We didn’t necessarily stay at the village, but it really was impossible with the size of the people we had – and security. You never called a timeout in the ’92 Games. Is that even possible in the international game right now for the U.S.?

Chuck Daly: No, I wouldn’t think that that would be the case. In my own mind, we played at 10:30 every night, every other night, and I wanted to make sure we got back to get something to eat before they closed down the kitchen. I don’t know, they probably kept it open (laughs), but, I just kind of made an off-hand thought to myself, “Why are we calling timeouts?”

And I didn’t. I was only tempted one time against Croatia, and didn’t do it, and got through it without one, but I don’t think that should be, or is the case today. I know one thing, I lost a lot of exposure and a lot of money, and I’m still pretty upset about that. How so?

Chuck Daly: Well you get that television exposure; you get a lot more ads. Krzyzewski, with these timeouts, is going to get a lot of new ads. Some pennies in his pocket. What is the biggest difference from ’92 to 2008 in terms of the over all international game?

Chuck Daly: Well there’s several things. One, shortly after the ’92 Games, I did a book, a diary, and I kind of predicted what was going to happen. When the Dream Team was shown to 180 countries I knew it would enhance basketball everywhere, and it has. I mean 300 million people playing basketball in China? Come on! Who would ever believe that? So the sport has this glamour that goes around the world. The difference is that, the teams at that time, in ’92, we might have had one or two foreign players in the league. Now we have anywhere from 75 to 90 on a given year. And it’s lost its mystique for them, it’s mystery. They play in our league; they know these guys, so they don’t have any fear, so to speak, of our teams.

Secondly, all of our coaches, from, you know the Massimino’s, the Dalys and the Van Gundys and the Fratellos and all these people traveled around the world giving clinics and you know explaining it, and teaching basketball. And the Europeans have their own take on it. Theirs is a drive-and-kick game, which is now a big part of our game in this country. And so, there are no mysteries, and it’s just a case of them developing their skills and their fundamentals. Look ahead to Saturday’s U.S. game against Spain, which features seven NBA players, the most outside of the U.S. team. …

Chuck Daly: Well this should be THE game, unless they meet again later on, which they very well might. I think our guys will be very focused, and I think Spain will have to depend on their ball handling, and their ball handling has to be very precise in order to overcome the pressure. I think that everyone is looking to it, and see if they’re the team with the most experience, the most talent, and see what our forces can do against them. Is there a difference in elation in winning an NBA title and an Olympic gold medal?

Chuck Daly: Yeah, there’s a different elation. In a lot of instances we’re expected to do that sort of thing with the type of personnel we’re presented with in the Olympics. The other’s a long, hard process. Sometimes, it takes years to develop and when you take a group and go four, five, six years and finally win a title, that’s pretty special.


Scores in 8 games:

USA vs. Angola- 116-48 : USA vs. Croatia- 103-70 : USA vs. Germany- 11-68 :
USA vs. Brazil- 127-83 : USA vs. Spain- 122-81 : USA vs. Puerto Rico- 115-77
USA vs. Lithuania- 127-76 : USA vs. Croatia- 117-85

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