You're an NBA general manager with an unlimited budget and a coaching vacancy. Which of two available championship clipboard carriers do you hire, Chuck Daly or Pat Riley? We posed that question to league G.M.'s, assuring them that they would remain anonymous—and wouldn't have to ante up for a clothing allowance. Daly was the clear choice of the 14 who responded.
The former Detroit Piston and New Jersey Net coach was the choice of 10 executives, many of whom liked his affability. "The present-day player can't function as well under Riley's regimen," said one G.M. Added another respondent, "Chuck has coached bad teams, medium teams and championship teams. Pat has coached only teams with great talent and always with a superstar or two." Others said Daly is "more of a long-term solution" and someone who "develops more of a family atmosphere."
Four picked Riley, who won four NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers but could only come close with the New York Knicks. Most stressed his ability to motivate. "He may not have as good a relationship with players, but he has all those rings," said one G.M. Said another, "There's more fire there. Daly proved when he took the Nets job that he did it for the money. The media love Chuck, but he's not as good as Jack Ramsay or Red Holzman."