Pistons' Cade Cunningham to wear No. 2 with blessing of Chuck Daly's family
At his introductory press conference on Friday afternoon, Cade Cunningham glanced down at his jersey and seemed to be drawn in by the moment.
Cunningham, the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft, was seeing his Pistons jersey for the first time, which is a special moment, but there’s a greater significance.
Cunningham will wear No. 2, which is a special honor, because that number was retired in honor of Chuck Daly, who coached the Bad Boys teams to back-to-back NBA titles in 1989 and 1990.
With permission from the Daly family, Cunningham was able to don the number he wore in college at Oklahoma State — and with it, the responsibility that goes along with representing the Pistons and the city. Cunningham took a moment to thank Daly’s daughter, Cydney.
“I just wanted to say a special thank you to Cydney Daly for giving the organization her blessing to allow me to wear my traditional number, No. 2,” Cunningham said. “That means so much to me, and I know how much these numbers mean (in the rafters) and I know that the people that came before me, really built something special in Detroit, and those legacies live on forever.”
Daly got the No. 2 for his two championships with the Bad Boys and coached in Detroit from 1983-1992, when he also coached the Dream Team to a gold medal in the Olympics.
He made a mark on the Pistons franchise, but also the NBA community before he passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2009.
“I want to wear that No. 2 with respect to Chuck Daly, a legend forever — and I don't want that name to ever die,” Cunningham said. “I want to rebuild what he had going on in Detroit and bring that same energy that the Bad Boys Pistons and the teams that he led and bring that same energy back to the Pistons today.
“Special thank you to Ms. Cydney Daly. I'm beyond honored for that number, and beyond honored for getting your blessing for that.”
More help in draft
The Pistons’ three second-round picks got a chance to introduce themselves and talk about how draft night was a dream fulfilled for them. General manager Troy Weaver and coach Dwane Casey were looking for a specific profile in the players they selected, and they felt confident that they got the right pieces for the roster rebuild.
“It’s the person first, to go with and to fit into the players we already have here,” Casey said. “They fit that test also and they have the same personality, same characteristics, and that's what we want to make sure not only with Cade, but with all the players.”
For Isaiah Livers, who played four years at Michigan, it was a shorter trip to get to the Pistons practice facility than the others, but he was no less excited when he found out that he was going to be picked by the Pistons, at No. 42 overall.
“I'm just excited to be back home. I played down the street at Michigan, and once I knew the Pistons were on the clock at 42, my dad and mom and I were like: 'Let's stay home — why not?’
“What (coach Dwane) Casey and Weaver got going on over here is something I want to be a part of, because we have some talent, and they use the word restore.
“Perfect. When I was in my interviews I was like, restore — I like that better than rebuild. Restore Detroit, get it back to where it's supposed to be.”
LukaGarza, who was the national player of the year, was a surprise to fall that far in the draft and to be available in the second round, at No. 52 overall. He was happy for the chance to prove that he belongs in the NBA and to at least have an opportunity.
“I'm just really, really thankful and grateful to the organization for taking the chance on me and giving me an opportunity,” Garza said. “That's all I needed ever in my life and I always feel like I'm going to work as hard as I can to maximize my potential on and off the floor. I look forward to being able to do that here.”
The right fit
In their draft process, the Pistons seemed to be looking for a good mix of high-character prospects in how they carry themselves off the court, in addition to what they can do on the court. Weaver started the foundation of those types of players last year, but he’s continued it with some solid selections in his second draft.
“I'm just as excited today as I was last year when we brought in four young men. The common theme remains the same. (The media) asked after the season, what we would look for in the draft, and I said we're just going to double down on what we did last year,” Weaver said. “We wanted hard-working, selfless, competitive guys who were about the right things. I will always contend that you can debate the player, but you're not going to debate the person.”
It’s a consistent theme, and Weaver will try to carry it over into free agency, which begins Aug. 2.