Detroit — The Detroit Pistons made plenty of enemies while winning titles and throwing blows two decades ago. Chuck Daly, though, was universally admired for his class and coaching acumen.
“I never understood how a great man and nice guy coached the Bad Boys,” Charles Barkley said.
Daly died Saturday morning at 78 in Jupiter, Fla., with his family by his side, the Pistons said. The team announced in March he was being treated for pancreatic cancer.
The Hall of Fame coach led the Dream Team to the Olympic gold medal in 1992 after winning back-to-back NBA championships in Detroit.
Daly was renowned for his ability to create harmony out of diverse personalities at all levels of the game, whether they were Ivy Leaguers at Pennsylvania, Dream Teamers Michael Jordan and Barkley, or Pistons as dissimilar as Dennis Rodman and Joe Dumars.
“It’s a players’ league. They allow you to coach them or they don’t,” Daly once said. “Once they stop allowing you to coach, you’re on your way out.”
Daly was voted one of the 10 greatest coaches of the NBA’s first half-century in 1996, two years after being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He was the first coach to win both NBA and Olympic titles.
Daly had a career regular-season record of 638-437 in 13 NBA seasons. In 12 playoff appearances, his teams went 75-51. He left Detroit as the Pistons’ leader in regular-season and playoff victories.
NBA commissioner David Stern said the “void left by his death will never be filled.”
Daly had a golden touch at the Barcelona Games with the likes of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Jordan, using a different lineup every game.
Suns keep Gentry as coach
Phoenix — As expected, the Phoenix Suns are sticking with coach Alvin Gentry. Suns general manager Steve Kerr removed the interim tag from Gentry’s title on Saturday, calling him “the right man to lead our team into the future.” Gentry was an assistant coach at Kansas University in the 1980s.
Dolphins, lineman agree
Miami — Undrafted offensive lineman J.D. Quinn, whose brief career at Oklahoma led to NCAA sanctions, has agreed to terms with the Miami Dolphins.
Quinn took part in the rookie camp last weekend and the Dolphins are expected to announce the signing Monday.
Quinn and quarterback Rhett Bomar were dismissed by the Sooners in August 2006 after breaking NCAA rules by taking money for work they didn’t perform at a Norman, Okla., car dealership. NCAA sanctions included forcing the Sooners to give up their eight wins in 2005, but an appeals committee restored them. Quinn transferred to the University of Montana.
Armstrong’s squad third
Venice, Italy — Lance Armstrong’s Astana team finished third in the team time trial that opened the Giro d’Italia on Saturday. Armstrong, recovering from a broken collarbone, made his debut in the race.
British sprinter Mark Cavendish crossed the line first for Columbia High Road and took the first leader’s pink jersey. Columbia finished the 12.7-mile route along Venice’s beach front in 21 minutes, 50 seconds. Garmin-Slipstream was six seconds back and Astana was 13 seconds behind the leader.
Armstrong crossed the line first for Astana, and he is 15th in the overall standings.
“I felt all right for an old man,” said the 37-year-old Armstrong, a seven-time Tour de France champion.
Wizards fall to Columbus
Columbus, Ohio — Emmanuel Ekpo, Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Eddie Gaven scored for Columbus in a 3-2 win over the Kansas City Wizards on Saturday night.
Georgia suspends two
Athens, Ga. — Georgia has suspended two football players, including tight end Bruce Figgins for six games, for violating team rules. Figgins, a junior, started two games last season. Sophomore defensive end Justin Houston was suspended for two games.
Cejka builds five-shot lead
Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. — Alex Cejka made a 5-foot birdie putt on the final hole to end a wild and steamy Saturday at The Players Championship that left yet another surprising development: Tiger Woods in the final group.
Cejka kept out of the water over the closing holes and wound up with an even-par 72 to build a five-shot lead, the largest after three rounds in the 36 years of this prestigious event.
Woods fired a 2-under-par 70. Cejka was at 11-under 205, and looked fairly steady considering the chaos going on around him.
Henrik Stenson was two shots behind until he bogeyed three of the last five holes, nearly chipping into the water on the 16th. He wound up with a 73, and was in the six-way tie for second that included Woods, two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen (71), Jonathan Byrd (71), Ben Crane (72) and Ian Poulter, who didn’t make a single birdie on his way to a 75.
Wright, Kerr tied at top
Williamsburg, Va. — Lindsey Wright shot a 7-under 64, and Cristie Kerr had a 66 to share the third-round lead as Lorena Ochoa faltered in the Michelob Ultra Open. The top-ranked Ochoa shot 74 with only two birdies. Wright came within one shot of the tournament record and Kerr closed with three birdies on the last four holes.
In-Kyung Kim was one off the lead after a 67, Song-Hee Kim was two back after a 68, and Ochoa’s 3-over left her tied for fifth with Natalie Gulbis (68) and Wendy Ward (67).
Pitino denies NBA rumors
Louisville, Ky. — Louisville coach Rick Pitino says there is “absolutely no truth” to the rumors that he is returning to the NBA. Pitino released a statement Saturday saying neither he nor anyone representing him has contacted the Sacramento Kings’ about their vacant coaching job. He says the rumors are hurting the Kings and misleading players he is attempting to recruit to Louisville.
Ex-SMU coach dies
Dallas — Former SMU coach Jimmy Tubbs, who was fired after two seasons in 2006 when an internal investigation revealed NCAA violations, has died. He was 60. SMU spokesman Brad Sutton said Tubbs died Saturday. No cause of death was given.
The Mustangs were 27-30 in Tubbs’ two seasons. He was 232-42 at Dallas Kimball High School, including the 1990 Class 5A state championship.
MEN’S COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL
UC Irvine takes NCAA title
Provo, Utah — Jordan DuFault had 14 kills, including the final one in the fifth set and UC Irvine won its second NCAA volleyball title in three years, beating Southern California, 3-2, Saturday. The Anteaters rallied from a 2-1 deficit to reclaim the national title they won two years ago with the five-set win over the Trojans.
Dawson defeats Tarver
Las Vegas — Chad Dawson successfully defended his IBF and IBO light heavyweight titles Saturday night, unanimously outpointing Antonio Tarver in a rematch of their October fight.
Mariners shelve Silva
Seattle — The Seattle Mariners have placed starter Carlos Silva on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, retroactive to Thursday. The club also activated closer Brandon Morrow from the 15-day disabled list on Saturday.
Cubs put infielder on DL
Milwaukee — The Chicago Cubs have placed third baseman Aramis Ramirez on the 15-day disabled list because of a dislocated left shoulder. Ramirez was hurt on a backhand dive in the third inning of Friday night’s 3-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Safina takes Italian title
Rome — Top-ranked Dinara Safina won her first title of the year Saturday by defeating fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-3, 6-2, in the final of the Italian Open.