Turns out, they had much more in common than either of them would have likely envisioned.
"We spoke a lot about how we were brought up and why we were so fortunate to do what we do for so long," Riley said. "Two Irishmen, there's a little wall there. You don't go too deep with it. But we had some fun together."
Their upbringings were similar in many respects, both preached about the value of work on one's esteem, and both were intensely driven by winning. Their teams met twice in the NBA Finals, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers winning in 1988, Daly and the Pistons beating the Lakers in 1989.
"I took a lot from Chuck in those encounters," Riley said.
At Daly's funeral in Tequesta, Fla., in 2009, Riley was moved to tears. Many of Daly's best Pistons were there — Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer, Rick Mahorn and Vinnie Johnson were pallbearers. And Carlisle, who was an assistant under Daly, attended as well, even though his Mavericks had a playoff game that night in Denver. Carlisle said missing the funeral was just not an option. He made it to the game in plenty of time.
That's how much Daly meant to people.
"I think we all aspired to be like him," Riley softly said that day. "We couldn't."
The Daly award marks lifetime achievement, but Riley hopes that his achievements keep coming, that his Heat will deliver what would be the eighth NBA championship of his career as a player, assistant, head coach and executive.
"I'm immersed in this whole thing," Riley said. "I just don't have my hands around its throat like I used to have, which I don't want anymore. But it's a tremendous honor for me to do this and to be awarded this thing. Being actively involved in it, especially at this date, I'm proud that I am because I think I can speak to Chuck's legacy even more that I am active and I know him personally."
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