The game we watch today has Chuck Daly’s fingerprints all over it. From the ticky-tack nature of assessing what level of physicality is allowed to the way Kobe is guarded. It was Daly’s Bad Boys who, along with the Knicks and Pat Riley, turned the game “ugly” in the late 80’s and early 90’s by combating the skill and finesse of Magic’s Lakers and Jordan’s Bulls with an intimidating defensive style. It was Daly’s Pistons that we’re actually successful for a time in slowing Jordan down in the playoffs by sending varied looks at him.
Daly’s Pistons faced up against the Lakers in the epic 7 game ’88 Finals. If not for Isaiah Thomas’ severely sprained ankle, which he played through in games 6 and 7, there may never have been a back-to-back. The Pistons would get their win over the Lakers the following year when bum hamstrings sidelined both Magic and Byron Scott and their own back-to-back the following year, placing them firmly in the upper echelon of the great 80’s teams.
Daly on guarding Jordan…
“If Michael was at the point, we forced him left and doubled him. If he was on the left wing, we went immediately to a double team from the top. If he was on the right wing, we went to a slow double team. He could hurt you equally from either wing — hell, he could hurt you from the hot-dog stand — but we just wanted to vary the look. And if he was on the box, we doubled with a big guy.
“The other rule was, any time he went by you, you had to nail him. If he was coming off a screen, nail him. We didn’t want to be dirty — I know some people thought we were — but we had to make contact and be very physical.”
“The so-called Jordan Rules might’ve been the only thing I contributed to basketball…Everything else I stole.”
SI NBA Historian Jack McCallum on Daly’s defense:
There were three tenets to the Detroit defense: Never give Jordan an easy shot; try to confuse him with varied defensive looks; and be very physical with him. The principles were perfect for the Pistons, who were smart and aggressive (some would say they crossed the line into “dirty”) defenders.
605 wins-420 losses
.609 winning %
Coach of the 1992 Gold Medal winning “Dream Team”
Charles Jerome Daly
Elements of this story are from Roland Lazenby’s The Show