Renowned NBA coach Rick Adelman awarded the 2023 Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award

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Rick Adelman is considered by most to be one of the greatest coaches to never win an NBA title. Nevertheless, sometimes recognition comes late in a person’s life, but fortunately for him, the 76-year-old has been handed the 2023 Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award.

The accolade was presented to the former trainer this past on Sunday night during Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Denver. “I am really surprised,” he said in disbelief. “I think they ran out of names.”

According to NBCA president Rick Carlisle, many experts thought that this award had been a long-time coming for Adelman. “The list of candidates is like a who’s who in NBA coaching history,” he said. “A lot of guys were being considered, but it was a strong majority for Rick this year.”

The honor recipient started out his playing career in 1968 and lasted seven years in the NBA. Two seasons later, he was coaching at Chemeketa Community College in Oregon, where he registered a 141-39 record over six campaigns.

Adelman went on to train 29 years in the NBA, and head-coached franchises like Portland, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets and the Minnesota Timberwolves. He’s the tenth trainer with most victories in the league, after having accumulated 1,042 in all those seasons on the bench.

The veteran, who now lives in Portland with his wife, starting out with the Trail Blazers and was able to take them all the way to the NBA Finals both in 1990 and 1992.

Not too long ago, Adelman was also inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Massachusetts. “I never expected (the Daly Award),” he admitted. “I didn’t expect the Hall of Fame, either. This one I didn’t even think about. I was shocked when Carlisle called and told me. I’m thrilled about it.

“It just reminds me how lucky I was to have had so many good players and got to work with so many great (assistant) coaches. The longer you get out of the business, the more you appreciate a lot of stuff that went on. I look at the names of the guys who have gotten the award … it’s really special.”

Carlisle explains the voting process and why Adelman was always ‘ahead of the curve’ than other coaches in the league

The eight-person selection committee consisted of some of the greatest coaches in league history, including Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Bernie Bickerstaff, Lenny Wilkens, Billy Cunningham, Joe Dumars, Donnie Walsh, and current Spurs trainer Gregg Popovich.

“In a quiet, unassuming way, Rick was a guy (every NBA coach) studied,” Carlisle said. “He was doing things differently. He was ahead of the curve with movement basketball, with spacing basketball and skill basketball. His Sacramento teams were intriguing to watch. His utilization of Chris Webber and Vlade Divac at the elbows, along with (the Kings’) shooting and cutting, is much like the game is played today.”

After leaving Portland, by 1998 Adelman went on to take Sacramento into new heights for the franchise, making them one of the NBA’s top teams for many campaigns. Just as when he landed in Houston in 2007, the coach guided them to the second-longest winning record in the NBA’s history books.

“It’s one thing to have a mind like that at your disposal,” Carlisle added. “It’s another to have the humility and self-confidence to implement that stuff, to take things a college coach is suggesting and make them part of the NBA. He gave Pete credit left and right.”