By: Jeffrey Newholm
Imagine a stockbroker of the year awarded based on performance in Monopoly. What if a man was a real estate wizard, forcing his opponents to land on Boardwalk’s hotel and continually grabbing the $200 Go cash? But then he competed against Warren Buffett in the real world, was outfoxed, and promptly fired. He’d probably be pretty mad, right? That’s pretty much Dwane Casey’s predicament. He and the Raptors finished first in a meaningless regular season. He promptly won recognition as the press’s coach of the year. After Toronto eased past the lowly Wizards, however, the Cavs swept the Raptors. Did Casey get a chance to try again against the now four time defending champ? Nope, Toronto fired him. Although rehired by Detroit, few could blame Casey if he had some parting words for his former employer. Well, there were certainly some parting words. Surprisingly, however, they were all polite.
In a letter to the Toronto Star, Casey thanked a “first-rate organization from top to bottom”. He also stated that “Toronto is lucky to have one of the best ownership groups in the NBA”. Granted, these words have come to ring rather empty considering how frequently losing coaches write (or perhaps ghostwrite) letters to save face. But they sound sincere coming from Casey. With his calm demeanor, he transformed Toronto from one the east’s worst teams to a country’s fan favorite. And while accpeting the NBA award night’s coach of the year trophy, he proved that life is what one does with what happens, not just what happens:
In the film Office Space, a waitress hilariously gives her boss the bird after hearing too much about “flair”. However, society judges this act as not befitting to an adult professional by giving the movie an R rating. But Monday Casey proved that there’s another way. Handling defeat with class is more important than any big win. And as seen with the acrimonious dismissal of UConn coach, and NCAA champion, Kevin Ollie, it’s much more memorable as well. So while the 30 tokens on the NBA board go around again, some ill-tempered coaches are sure to go to jail or the income tax. But Casey will still be a player, quietly passing Go and lapping those who can never be satisfied with anything but an impossible finish.