JACK McCLOSKEY, architect of the Detroit Pistons' Bad Boys teams that won two NBA titles, who also began his coaching career at Penn, died Thursday in Savannah, Ga., at age 91.
It was recently disclosed that he had been battling Alzheimer's disease, and he was living in a facility in Georgia for people with the disease.
McCloskey's Pistons won the 1989 and 1990 NBA titles. He had a banner at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich., an honor he received in 2008, which now will be hung at Little Caesars Arena, new home of the Pistons.
He coached the Quakers from 1956-66, winning an Ivy League championship in his final season. Penn went 19-6 that season, 12-2 in the league, but was ruled ineligible for the NCAA Tournament for failure to comply with the NCAA's new academic standard requiring certification of a 1.6 minimum GPA for all student-athletes.
He went 146-105 at Penn, with an 87-53 mark in the Ivies.
After Penn, he coached six seasons at Wake Forest, where he went 70-89.
He played one NBA game for the Philadelphia Warriors, scoring six points in a 72-61 loss to the New York Knicks in 1953.
His Pistons teams made nine straight playoff appearances, with five straight trips to the Eastern Conference finals, three straight NBA Finals appearances and two titles.
Always with an eye for talent, McCloskey drafted Isiah Thomas in 1981 and Joe Dumars in 1985, then picked Dennis Rodman and John Salley in the 1986 draft. They helped form the nucleus of the championship teams. McCloskey was nicknamed "Trader Jack" for his many astute trades during his tenure as GM.
Another of his great moves was to hire former Penn coach Chuck Daly to lead the Pistons. As head coach of the Pistons, Daly holds the franchise records for regular-season victories (467) and playoff victories (71).
Former Piston Earl Cureton said there wouldn't have been a Bad Boys without McCloskey.
"When you think about the Bad Boys you're going to think about the Jack McCloskey era," Cureton said.