SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Chuck Daly loved to shop and about 20 years ago, he dragged his friend Mike Fratello to a clothing store. Daly noticed a blue blazer with vertical stripes and told Fratello he had to buy it for himself.
Fratello questioned why.
“You're going to wear that someday," Daly told him, “to a very special occasion."
Sunday became someday. And the jacket was a perfect fit.
Fratello was announced Sunday as this year’s recipient of the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by the National Basketball Coaches Association. He becomes the 17th winner of the award, which originated in 2009.
“I can't tell you how much it means," Fratello said.
He's won everything from big games to an Emmy award, and now an award named for his close friend.
“He's had an amazing career and continues to make an amazing impact on the world of basketball," said Indiana coach Rick Carlisle, the NBCA president.
Fratello has been involved in the NBA in some capacity — coach, assistant coach, or broadcaster — since the late 1970s. He spent parts of 17 seasons as a head coach in Atlanta, Cleveland and Memphis, winning 667 regular-season games and 20 playoff contests, plus won an Emmy as best on-camera sports analyst in New York in 2015.
Fratello was the NBA’s Coach of the Year in the 1985-86 season with the Hawks, and he has been accomplished at the international level as well. He most recently coached USA Basketball in qualifying games that clinched a berth in the FIBA AmeriCup tournament scheduled for September.
“I wanted to be part of helping the United States move on and qualify for the next thing,” Fratello said after those qualifying wins. “The fact we were able to do that was very rewarding to me. I love to see young guys get together, form a team, work together, play defense together, pass the ball together and then have success.”
He also spent four years coaching Ukraine's national team — and the ongoing war there has affected him deeply. He has raved about how beautiful he found Ukraine, and has seen certain parts of cities that he used to frequent destroyed during the Russian invasion.
Fratello has reached out to every player from those teams that he can, checking on their safety and well-being.
“Those were four of the greatest years of my coaching career," Fratello said.
The NBCA came up with the Daly award to honor those who “set a standard for integrity, competitive excellence and tireless promotion of NBA basketball.”
The past recipients are Larry Brown (2021), Del Harris (2020), Frank Layden (2019), Doug Moe (2018), Al Attles and Hubie Brown (2017), K.C. Jones and Jerry Sloan (2016), Dick Motta (2015), Bernie Bickerstaff (2014), Bill Fitch (2013), Pat Riley (2012), Lenny Wilkens (2011), Jack Ramsay and Tex Winter (2010), and Tommy Heinsohn (2009).
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