DENVER — Rick Adelman’s influence is all over this year’s NBA Finals, which makes his being honored during the title series even more fitting.
Adelman was announced Sunday as the 18th recipient of the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by the National Basketball Coaches Association. It preceded Game 2 of the NBA Finals between Denver and Miami; Nuggets assistant coach David Adelman is Rick’s son, and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is a Portland native who vividly remembers Adelman’s Trail Blazers teams.
“To be included with the past winners is special,” said Rick Adelman, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021. “Chuck was a great coach and respected by all those who coached against his teams. To receive an award like this I have to thank all those who helped me along the way, in particular my assistant coaches and front offices. I would also like to thank the players I had through the years. Their effort and cooperation made everything I did possible. Good players make coaching much easier.”
Two of his former players are in these finals as well: Heat guard Kyle Lowry played for Adelman in Houston, and Heat forward Kevin Love played for him in Minnesota.
Spoelstra said Adelman was one of his earliest influences.
“As I got older in high school and college, it was Rick,” Spoelstra said. “I just loved the way he operated. He’s been a big mentor to me. … The Adelman kids, including David, and I’ve known David since he was probably 3, we were all running around the facility.”
Rick Adelman is 10th in NBA history with 1,042 regular-season wins and 13th with 79 postseason wins. He took the Blazers to the NBA Finals twice, falling in 1990 to Detroit and 1992 to Chicago.
He also coached Sacramento, Golden State, Minnesota and Houston.
“Rick Adelman’s NBA coaching career has been highlighted by innovation, integrity and excellence,” said Indiana coach and NBCA President Rick Carlisle. “His teams always played to their strengths, and Rick always found subtle ways to reinvent NBA basketball to help his players thrive. His quiet, unassuming nature belies his impact as one of the great NBA coaches of all time.”
Past winners of the Daly award include Mike Fratello (2022), 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).