by Marcel Mutoni

There’s some terribly sad news to kick start the weekend: Former head coach Chuck Daly lost his battle with cancer this morning, and died in Jupiter, Florida.

Daly coached the gritty Detroit Pistons to consecutive NBA championships (’89, ’90), and in 1992, he led the Dream Team to a gold medal in Barcelona. The man is a hoops legend, and the Hall of Fame officially recognized the fact this past March.

The AP (via reader Gerwin) has more:

He 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 Charles 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 an NBA title and Olympic gold.

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.

“The Daly family and the entire Detroit Pistons and Palace Sports and Entertainment family is mourning the loss of Chuck Daly,” family and team spokesman Matt Dobek said. “Chuck left a lasting impression with everyone he met both personally and professionally and his spirit will live with all of us forever.”

Chuck Daly was 78.